Biological Control in the Garden

— Written By Tracy Perry and last updated by Margaret Green

When one thinks of biological control, usually it is in the same text as chemical agents. Well this time we are going to talk about something totally different. Now that I have your attention lets get started shall we. Biological control is generally using living organisms to control a specific pest. In this instance it is choosing a predator that will attack a harmful insect in the garden.

You are probably asking yourself what are the advantages of biological control. Biological control methods can reduce the legal, environmental, and health hazards of using chemicals in the garden. In some cases biological control methods are less expensive than certain insecticides. Since we have gone over the advantages, lets take a moment and discuss the disadvantages. Biological control takes more intensive management and planning. It can also take more time and requires more record keeping. In addition it also demands more patients and education or training. To be successful, you need to understand the biology of the pest and it’s enemies.

What is a beneficial insect? In a garden setting a beneficial insect is any insect that preys upon a harmful insect. Beneficial insects are the “GOOD” insects that destroy insect pests! At this point you are probably asking yourself, how can I protect the beneficial insects that I already have in my garden? First identify the insects in your garden. Then determine if the insect is eating a plant, looking for another insect to eat, looking for shelter, or simply passing through. Some examples of beneficial insects include: ladybugs, lacewings, syrphid flies, soldier bugs, assassin bugs, big eyed bugs, parasitic wasps, praying mantis and tachinid flies. All of these beneficial insects occur and survive naturally in our environment. You can even buy some of them if you wanted to.

How can I identify the insects in my garden, you ask? Contact your local Cooperative Extension Office of course. The Franklin County Cooperative Extension office is located at 103 South Bickett Boulevard Louisburg, N.C. 27549 and the phone number is 919.496.3344. Also our web address is Now that you know about biological control, is your insect a friend of foe?

Adult Lacewing Soldier Bug Nymph Parasitic Wasp

Tracy Perry

Agricultural and Natural Resources Technician

Franklin County Cooperative Extension Service

(919) 496-3344

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