Biocontrol: A big YES to the nature!

Author: Dr. Mirza Abdul Qayyum

The things that have reshaped the entire canvas of globe include; wars, industrializations, pandemics and internet. All these element stage in the development of knowledge in which the lines between physical, digital and biological spheres are being blurred. Each has changed the way we live, work and interacts with each other. This ihad an impact on on behavior, technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics; all of which now impact our everyday lives.

Biological control includes the exploitation of beneficial action of parasites, parasitoids, pathogens, and predators for managing pests and their damage. The term “Natural Enemies” is coined for these beneficial organisms collectively. It is one of the tool to stay close to nature; a natural manipulation of ecosystem. It brings a risk free balance to all operating forces of nature that on the other hand are destructed and manipulated by human efforts. Biocontrol agents can also contribute to the control of weed, pathogen, nematode or vertebrate pests.

 

You’ve seen lady beetles, Chrysoperla, Trichograma, Bracon wasps preying on aphids, caterpillar eggs, an assassin bug attacking spotted cucumber beetle, a crab spider munching on a stink bug and some sort of entomopathogens naturally curbing insect pests or other individuals? Conserving and releasing natural enemies constitutes an important part of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Biocontrol is the most effective wing of nature’s response to keep things in balance. Important methods for releasing natural enemies are inoculation and inundation:

  • Inoculation—relatively few natural enemies are released. The offspring of these natural enemies provide biological control, not the individuals released.
  • Inundation—large numbers of natural enemies are released, often several times over a growing season. The natural enemies released, and possibly their offspring, provide biological control.

With specific focus on Biocontrol for Insect Pest Management, one has to consider many factors affecting the effectiveness. All the limitations of Biocontrol agents need to be understood well before starting application. Survival, conservation and multiplication of Biocontrol agents need to be ensured with provision of food, makings things conducive for survival and by avoiding hazardous conditions. Natural enemies are unlikely to be effective when released as if you were applying a pesticide. Instead, anticipate pest problems and begin making releases before pests are too abundant or economic damage is imminent.

Remember that natural enemies are living organisms that require food, shelter, and water. Protect them from extreme conditions by releasing them at night or early in the day during hot weather. Avoid applying broad-spectrum, residual (persistent) insecticides and miticides, and in some situations certain systemic or other pesticides, before or after releasing natural enemies. When needed, use safer pesticides on spots or in localized patches. Common reasons for the lack of satisfactory biological control after releases include the Application of broad-spectrum, residual insecticides, or in some situations systemic or other pesticides, prior to or after a release, Incorrect timing of release, Release of a natural enemy species that is known to be ineffective.

Back to 2011, when the cotton In Pakistan was covered by mealy bug. All human efforts including use of cultural, chemicals, physical approaches faced a big failure. Farmers were forced to follow the recommendation of weekly schedule of pesticides application. Some farmers tried to innovate the control by adding surfactants, acids, some alkalies, salts and even more interesting and irrelevant chemicals. All such ideas were of no use to keep mealy bug away, in spite it was spread to many of ornamentals, weeds and vegetable crops. It was witnessed that this voracious pest was kept under cover by natural enemies that highlight its importance. That why one can be right to say Biocontrol as big YES to the nature.

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