The terms “biological control” and its abbreviated synonym “biocontrol” have been used in different fields of biology, most notably entomology and plant pathology. In entomology, it has been used to describe the use of live predatory insects, entomopathogenic nematodes, or microbial pathogens to suppress populations of different pest insects. In plant pathology, the term applies to the use of microbial antagonists to suppress diseases. In both fields, the organism that suppresses the pest or pathogen is referred to as the biological control agent (BCA). More broadly, the term biological control also has been applied to the use of the natural products extracted or fermented from various sources. These formulations may be very simple mixtures of natural ingredients with specific activities or complex mixtures with multiple effects on the host as well as the target pest or pathogen." (Pal, K. K. and B. McSpadden Gardener, 2006)


Biological Control Agents

predatory insects

Predatory or beneficial insects are used to control pest insects. They are important for running a successful Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.


Biopesticides are certain types of pesticides derived from such natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals. They can treat both pests and pathogens. They are the first choice when turning to pesticide use.


Microbial antagonists

Microbial antagonism is the method of using established cultures of microorganisms to prevent the intrusion of foreign strains. The proper use will prevent unwanted fungal and bacterial infections. Microbial antagonists can also be classified as biopesticides.


Pest and Pathogen Management

The Pest and Pathogen Management pages are being updated to include more further information on botanical and biological controls. For in depth details we suggest you browse through the BioPesticides and Predatory Insects pages to learn about all the individual controls and make choices based on your management style. Any questions can be directed to the FORUM



Pest controls are an essential tool of every great gardener. Our platform is based on the principles of Integrated Pest Management, following biological and organic agricultural practices. *IPM practices also list organic chemical controls.

pathogen management

Pathogen controls are an essential tool of every great gardener. Our platform is based on the principles of Integrated Pest Management, following biological and organic agricultural practices. *IPM practices also list organic chemical controls.



BioControls in Integrated Pest Management

"Growers are interested in reducing dependence on chemical inputs, so biological controls (defined in the narrow sense) can be expected to play an important role in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) systems. A model describing the several steps required for a successful IPM has been developed (McSpadden Gardener and Fravel 2002). In this model, good cultural practices, including appropriate site selection, crop rotations, tillage, fertility and water management, provide the foundation for successful pest management by providing a fertile growing environment for the crop. The use of pest and disease resistant cultivars, developed through conventional breeding or genetic engineering, provides the next line of defense. However, such measures are not always sufficient to be productive or economically sustainable. In such cases, the next step would be to deploy biorational controls of insect pests and diseases. These include BCAs, introduced as inoculants or amendments, as well as active ingredients directly derived from natural origins and having a low impact on the environment and non-target organisms." 

Pal, K. K. and B. McSpadden Gardener, 2006. Biological Control of Plant Pathogens The Plant Health Instructor. DOI: 10.1094/PHI-A-2006-1117-02.
Updated 2011

"Customers who use biological control products generally want to be directly involved in solving their pest problems. This involvement is essential because products must first be selected and deployed according to general instructions and subsequently evaluated for site-specific effectiveness. It may be necessary to try different products or application procedures, or to modify the environment in ways that enhance the impact of natural enemies. This may involve changing how plants are grown or adding food, companion plants and refuges for natural enemies. The impacts of commercial natural enemies can be limited to the stage that is released or be long-term if they reproduce and become established. Typically, several pests are present and, if some must be managed with pesticides, it is necessary to know which pesticides are compatible with the natural enemies. Other considerations are how to release the natural enemies and in what developmental stages. They can be introduced, for example, on special plants with non-pest hosts, so called “banker plants,” added as eggs, or allowed to fly from release containers." Guidelines for Purchasing and Using Commercial Natural Enemies and Biopesticides in North America