Using biological control is not just a new fad sweeping through the greenhouse industry. Growers and scientists have used natural predators, parasites, and pathogens to combat pest insects since the early 1900s. Many of the first research trials date back to the 1920s, such as the first recorded use of the tiny parasitic wasp Aphidius colmani. The use of biological control agents gained in popularity over the next two decades and by the 1940s was in wide use across the globe.
With the introduction of chemical pesticides beginning in the 1940s there was a drastic drop in the use of beneficial organisms as pesticides were easier to use. It was only in the 1980s that data showing the widespread collateral damage caused by pesticides started to raise alarms. The government responded with legislation that limited the types and amount of pesticides that growers could use on their crops. Growers in the horticultural industry started to realize that pesticides had a direct impact on their own families and property. These concerns led some growers to begin using more sustainable practices, such as biological pest control.
Now with the development of a large organic food market and wide acceptance among consumers, the use of natural methods of controlling crop pests has again increased in popularity and availability. Biological control throughout the last century has come full circle and is now in use by forward thinking greenhouse growers.
Grower/Biocontrol Specialist America’s Best Flowers