Biocontrol, short for biological control, is the management of a pest, typically an invasive species, by introducing a natural predator into the environment. Biocontrol reduces the pest population and its impacts on the environment. Natural enemies are an environmentally friendly alternative to pesticides that are often used to control invasive species. Biocontrol is sustainable and long-term; the biggest cost to control an introduced species is research that involves determining the safety and efficacy of a biocontrol agent.
Therefore, biocontrol can be cost-effective in the long term. The Biological Insect Control Laboratory at the University of Rhode Island has many ongoing biocontrol projects targeting invasive species in Rhode Island to help reduce the ecological and social impacts of pests. These tools can further improve the implementation and success of bio-based pest management approaches, including biological control. Therefore, accurate identification of the host and parasitoid species is of vital importance in the use of parasitoids for biological control.
The costs of using biological control are now much lower in Europe than using chemical control for insect pests. Biological control is the use of living organisms to suppress pest populations, making them less harmful than they would otherwise be. Native and cultivated plants related to weeds are exposed to the biological control agent to see if they are also attacked. In order to choose a successful biological control program, it is crucial to identify the pest along with its population levels and the circumstances of the infestation.
Once potential biological control agents have been identified, they are tested abroad to ensure that they are host-specific, that is, they will not attack any plant other than the weed to be controlled and, therefore, will not become a pest if introduced into Australia. Biological control is often an important component of IPM programs and is considered one of several bio-based pest management tactics. It can be more difficult for a non-professional person to achieve biological control given the many variables involved and the specialized knowledge of pests, bioagents and environmental conditions that are often needed to succeed. Biological control can be defined as the deliberate use of natural enemies (predators, parasites, pathogens, and competitors) to suppress and maintain populations of a target pest species (insects, mites, weeds, plant pathogens, and other pest organisms).
Potential biological control agents are found by examining weeds in their area of origin abroad and looking for damage caused by grass's natural enemies. The success of this biological control has been reinforced by cultural methods, such as timing cuttings to reduce weevil populations and avoid disrupting natural enemies. A small wasp, Trichogramma ostriniae, introduced from China to help control the European corn borer, is a recent example of a long history of classic biological control efforts for this large pest. It is an alternative to pesticides and poisons that can offer a few different advantages and disadvantages.