Biological control can be less or more expensive than pesticides. You can incur significant expenses studying, choosing, testing and breeding a bioagent. However, in cases where bioagents are applied to low-level pest populations, pest control can be long-term and economical. Some fungi attack insects and kill them.
A fungal spore penetrates the insect and grows all over it. It takes about a week for the insect to die. Fungi are cost-effective, unless a high application rate is needed for severe insect infestations. 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 involved in 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 impact of a pest. Biological control is not new, it is simply appreciated recently. This renewed appreciation is due to the widespread insecticidal treadmill, which is largely a product of the alteration of the balance of insect communities by insecticides. Biological control is a natural phenomenon; regulation of the number of plants and animals by natural enemies.
In this broad sense, biological control is vital to public health because it prevents the myriad species of insects from outperforming us in competition. It also has direct public health advantages, since when natural enemies are manipulated to control diseases, insect vectors. The insecticide disturbance of biological insecticide control and the resulting pesticide treadmill have serious public health implications. One is the increased burden of pesticides in the environment.
The other is the acceleration of pesticide resistance in insect vectors of diseases. The treadmill and its associated hazards will not diminish as long as chemical control dominates our pest control strategy. Biological control is a slow process, it takes a lot of time & patience for biological agents to work their magic on the pest population, while other methods such as pesticide work offer immediate results. The advantage of this is the long-term effect that biological control provides.
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 used to combat insect and fungal diseases, as well as damage caused by nematodes. It is difficult & sometimes expensive to develop biological control in the field because it requires highly qualified scientific personnel. There is relatively less investment in biological control research compared to chemical pesticides, The & variation changes in the behavior of natural enemies that can be caused by breeding conditions are multiple, this variation leads to inconsistent results in biological control.
In conservation biological control, organisms resident in the environment are stimulated and, therefore, the potential effects on non-target organisms are to a large extent. Potential agents are costly to test for specificity, host specificity tests can take many years to complete due to the need for thoroughness. Biological control operates over large areas, so it cannot be limited to individual properties or paddock. It does not eradicate the pest organism completely, because if the control agent reduces the pest population too much, it destroys its own food source.
Biological control is often an important component of IPM programs and is considered one of many bio-based pest management tactics. It can be fickle, you can't control any natural enemy, you get loose in an ecosystem, while you are supposed to manage a pest, your predator will switch to a different target, it may decide to eat your crops instead of having insects infest them, but when you introduce a new species into the environment, there is a risk to interrupt the natural food chain. BCAs are more susceptible to environmental conditions than to chemical control, which causes fluctuations in pest populations, is reflected in the quality of the product, in the yield of the crop and, of course, in the price of the product in the market, if the annual harvest of the crop is not stable, it will affect the stability of producer income. In forestry, biological control is used, for example, to reduce attacks of Heterobasision annosum, a pest that causes losses in forestry of between 50 and 100 million euros per year.
Many antagonist fungi are found in the genus Trichoderma, but there are several other examples, some of which have been developed and marketed for the biological control of plant diseases. If seeds are needed to replant a plantation, a seedbed garden can be specially protected against biocontrol agents in the same way that other crops protect themselves against insect pests. Potential biological control agents are found by examining weeds in their area of origin abroad and looking for damage caused by natural enemies of weeds. .