Different Types Of Biological Pest Control Agents

Biocontrol is the application of one living organism to control another. It is also referred to as biological pest control. The biological application is mainly introduced to reduce the population of a pest and to produce pest-free yields. It is a self-sustaining and long-term treatment method for managing invasive plants and pests. The living organism applied in this system is used to suppress a weed infestation. Furthermore, it controls pests including insects, pathogens, and grazing animals.



Biocontrol Agents (or) Biological Control Agents

Biocontrol agents are natural enemies like parasitism, predation and other mechanisms for controlling plant pests. They play an important role in controlling the plant pests like parasitic nematodes, weeds, parasitic nematodes, and mites. The biological pest management helps in maintaining and balancing the plant species along with their natural enemies.



Types of Biocontrol Agents:

  • Inundative Biocontrol (Augmentation): This approach uses pathogens, applied to a target weed at a very high rate in an aspect that is almost similar to herbicide application. The most common pathogens used in inundative biocontrol include parasitic nematodes and nuts. This approach does not prevent the invasive plant from increasing at a later date.

 

  • Classical Biocontrol (Importation): It uses agent populations that would waver in a natural prey and predator relationship. This method adopts natural predatory insects of the invasive plant. It creates an eternal relationship between a plant and biological control animals.



List of Biological Pest Control Agents:

  • Insect Predators: They are mainly free-living species that consume prey in large numbers during their lifespan. Because the majority of predatory insects constitute crop pests. Some of the predators include Lacewings, Spiders, Flies, Beetles, dragonflies, ladybugs, lady beetles, parasitic wasps and parasitic beetles.

 

  • Pathogens: Virus, Bacteria, and fungi are relatively pathogenic micro-organisms that are host specifics or kill their host. Some microbial diseases occur naturally. As a result, they are used as biological pesticides. A groundbreaking proposal by Zetter and Freeman in 1972 indicated that the pathogens can be used against aquatic weeds.

 

  • Bacteria: Bacteria belonging to the coccobacillus group are more pathogenic to insects. They are used for biological control. They infect the digestive tract of insects thus limiting the options for controlling insects with sucking mouthparts namely scale insects and aphids. Bacteria offer resistance to insect pests and thus reduce the necessity for pesticide use.

 

  • Viruses: The use of insect viruses as a controlling agent is still in inception. Since they are host specific, they turn out to have good potential as biocontrol agents. For example, some viruses are sprayed in large forest areas of North America to kill moth larvae causing serious defoliation.

 

  • Fungi: The fungi Entomophaga is effective against pests namely green peach aphid. It has been found that numerous members of Chytridiomycota and Blastocladiomycota work as biological control agents. In the United States, Synchytrium solstitial from Chytridiomycota is being considered as a control agent of the yellow star thistle.

 

  • Parasitoids: They lay eggs in the body of the host (insect), eventually killing the host. Later developing larvae use it as a source of food. It is one of the most widely biological pest controls. In the United State of America, they have been released as possible biological control of the emerald ash borer.



Merits and Demerits of Biocontrol Agents:



Merits

  • The biological control agents are environmentally friendly and hence cause no side effects.
  • Less cost compared to other Agrochemicals pesticides and insecticides.
  • Easily available, easy to use and most noteworthy, effective throughout the season.
  • Helps in reducing the use of chemicals and other pesticides.

 



Demerits

  • It affects the product quality.
  • Biological control agents don't destroy pests completely.
  • It is effective only for large-scale usage.
  • It takes time and slows processing

 

Keeping in mind the above-mentioned merits and demerits, it is advisable to approach professional pest control services if you face pest infestation in your house.

 



Professional Pest Control Service

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