Wednesday, November 7, 2018

What do you think of biological control? Inquiring local scientists want to know!

Karla Salp
WSDA Communications

WSDA entomologist Maggie Freeman releases wasps
to combat invasive lily leaf beetles.
When it comes to fighting pests – whether weeds, diseases, or animals – many tools have been used over the centuries including manual removal, cultural changes, and use of pesticides. One of the lesser-known tools is biological control – or the use of natural enemies to attack pests.

While biological control may seem like a modern phenomenon, according to Wikipedia, biological control has been used for centuries. The first report of the use of an insect species to control an insect pest comes from China around 304 AD. Jiaozhi people sold ants and their nests attached to twigs, which they placed in trees to protect citrus fruits. The ants attacked and killed insect pests of the orange tree.

Despite their longtime use, some people are only familiar with stories of biological control agents in
Parasitic wasps laying eggs on lily leaf beetle larva.
the first half of the 1900’s, some of which were released without adequate research and became pests themselves.

In an effort to understand current attitudes and beliefs about the use of biological control, WSDA is collaborating with Washington State University and the University of Alaska to conduct a survey to learn about public perceptions of classical biological control.

If you have questions about the survey or project, contact WSDA entomologist Chris Looney.

Updated January 14, 2019 to remove survey link after survey closed.