Biocontrol can be simply defined as the control of growth of an insect or pest by using a biological agent or living organism. This process is also referred to a biological control. Biocontrol is used to get pest-free fields. It is very effective and a long-term method to remove invasive plants. The living organisms are used in this method to eradicate, weeds, pests, insects, pathogens, etc.
The biocontrol agents protect plants from their natural enemies like parasites, from predation, etc. They help in controlling the infestation of plant pests such as weeds, nematodes, insects, and mites. The biological control agents are specific to harmful organisms and do not kill useful organisms present in the soil.
Also Read: Microbes as Biocontrol Agents
Types of Biocontrol Agents
Biological control can be categorized into two types:
- Classical biocontrol (Importation): It uses natural enemy of the pest as a biocontrol agent. This method adopts natural predators of the invasive plant but sometimes the introduced species can become serious pests, if not chosen wisely.
- Inductive biocontrol (Augmentation): A large number of natural enemies are released to kill the target weed. Nematodes are most commonly used in the inundative release.
List of Biological Control Agents
- Insect Predators such as spiders, flies, ladybugs, wasps, beetles, and dragonflies.
- Pathogenic microorganisms such as virus, bacteria, fungi, etc. Coccobacillus bacteria are more pathogenic to insects. They affect the digestive system of insects and are used against insects and aphids. The fungi Entomophaga is used against green peach aphid.
- Parasitoids lay eggs in the host body and kill it. It is later used as a source of food for the developing larva. It is commonly used as biocontrol agents.
Merits and Demerits of Biocontrol Agents:
- Reduces the use of chemicals and other pesticides.
- They are environment friendly and with no side effects.
- Effective in all the seasons, easy to use and easily available.
- It affects product quality.
- Pest is not completely removed.
- Not very effective for short scale application.