An adult parasitic wasp about to parasitise a Helicoverpa armigera larva.

Encouraging beneficial insects can lead to effective biocontrol of crop pests.

Managing invasive insects

Biological control is one alternative to chemical pesticides being researched by CSIRO.

  • 11 February 2010 | Updated 14 October 2011

Australian agriculture is increasingly looking for ways of controlling insect pests that do not rely on chemical insecticides.

CSIRO is developing biological control techniques for the management of these pests across the whole rural landscape.

Until now pest control has been on a local on-farm basis. We are now pushing it out to the landscape level as in Area Wide Management.

Our current research is divided into two areas:

  • biological control of silverleaf whitefly
  • managing biodiversity to capture ecosystem services.

Biological control of silverleaf whitefly

Silverleaf whitefly (Bemisia tabaci biotype B) is a pest in vegetable, cotton and grain legume production areas, particularly in Queensland. CSIRO recently released the tiny wasp parasitoid Eretmocerus hayati in Queensland to help manage the whitefly.

It is important for Australian agriculture that farmers can control insect pests in ways that reduce reliance on chemical insecticides.

This release offers an opportunity to evaluate the performance of a biological control agent released to manage an exotic invasion using a landscape ecological framework.

We are now evaluating the impact of the wasp on the whitefly.

Managing biodiversity to capture ecosystem services

We are researching how best to capture and quantify ecosystem services such as beneficial parasites.

We are doing this by developing an understanding of the ecological interactions between agricultural production systems and native habitats, and their impacts on sustainable management of invertebrate pests.

We are developing an understanding of how components of a landscape change fundamental population processes such as colonisation, spread and rate of increase of populations.

Find out more about Pest Management.