a1 Professor, Department of Entomology, Wageningen Agricultural University, P.O. Box 8031, 6700 PD Wageningen, The Netherlands.
The number of species of insect pests, estimated to be maximally 10,000 worldwide, forms only a small part of the millions of species of plant-eating insects. Chemical pest control is becoming increasingly difficult and objectionable in terms of environmental contamination so that other methods of pest control need to be developed. One of the best alternatives is biological control. Natural and inoculative biological control has already proven successful against a variety of pests over large areas. One is inclined to forget, however, how successful a biological control program has been as soon as the pest problem has been solved. Other types of biological control involving the regular introduction or augmentation of natural enemies are better known, although these have been applied on a much smaller scale; a survey of the present-day application of these latter types of biological control is presented here. Phases in the implementation of biological control are illustrated and needed future developments in research are discussed. The main limitation on the development of biological control is not the research, since natural enemies are easier found and with a much lower investment than new chemical pesticides, but rather the attitudes held by growers and disinterest on the part of industry, policy-makers, and politicians. The first priority for those concerned with the development and application of safer pest control should, therefore, be to change the perceptions that these other groups have of biological control.