Section

Understanding pests and their biological control

Biological control is the use of one or more types of beneficial organisms, usually called natural enemies, to reduce the numbers of another type of organism, the pest. Although this publication focuses on the biological control of pest insects, biological control has also been used to manage other types of pests, including weeds and microorganisms that cause plant diseases.

Biological control relies on the interactions of living organisms with the target pests and the environment. It is therefore more complex than certain traditional pest control practices, such as the use of chemical pesticides.This introductory section provides basic information on the biology of insects, the natural enemies of insects, and the methods used to implement biological control. There is also a discussion of the economics of pest control as it relates to biological control.Terms in boldface are in the glossary at the end of the publication.

Figure 1. All insects have three body regions: head, thorax, and abdomen.

head

thorax abdomen

Figure 2. This caterpillar shows the basic body form of a larval insect. Certain groups of larvae, especially caterpillars and sawfly larvae, have auxiliary legs, called prolegs, on the abdomen.

abdomen thorax

head

Figure 2. This caterpillar shows the basic body form of a larval insect. Certain groups of larvae, especially caterpillars and sawfly larvae, have auxiliary legs, called prolegs, on the abdomen.

abdomen

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