Historical Developments in Biological Control – Middle History to 1940

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Historical Developments in Biological Control – Middle History to 1940

The knowledge about parasitoids, predators and diseases were accumulating and the struggle for existence was taking place an early Ecologist George Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin put forth general idea called ‘Balance of Nature’.

John Curtis in his book on ‘Farm Insect’ (1860) includes ecology of various agricultural pests and emphasized functions of parasitoids and predators in crop protection. Riley (1873) arranged first international shipment of natural enemies in the transfer of predatory mite Tyroglyphus phyllaxerae to France from North America for possible control of grapevine phylloxera. Riley (1883) directed import of internal parasite of cabbage butterfly from England to America and A. glomeratus eventually, become successful and well distributed in Eastern and mid western state as larval parasitoid. This successful importation of A. glomeratus by Riley was the first international transfer of parasitoid for biological control.

The Italian Microbiologist Agastina Bassi is the first worker to suggest use of microbes for insect pest suppression in 1836. Lewis pasture from France was more confident for his suggestion of use of protozoa causing pebrine disease in bees. Russian Zoologist Metchnikiff recorded large fluctuation in pest population of wheat cock chafer beetle and one of the causes was green muscardine fungus, Meterrhizium anisopliae.

The successful introduction of coccinellid beetle Radalia cardinalis from Australia to California in 1888, was the first spectacular success controlling cottony cushion scale (Icerya puchasi) a serious pest of citrus and become a first classical example of biological insect pest suppression and it was later acclaimed as miracle Cryptolaemns montrouzieri. Mulsent, a mealy bug predator approached usefulness as like that of R. cardinalis (vedalia beetle). However Smith H. S. (1912) put quarantine measures to stop importation of beneficial organisms into California. In 1919, he was first to propose the term ‘Biological Control’ and wrote voluminously in 1935-1939 on theoretical aspects of biological control.

In Europe, Metchnikoff tried Beauveria sp against nunmoth caterpillar, Gypsy moth and Melolontha beetles. In mid western U. S. the fungus, B. basiana was used for control Chinch bug, Blesses leucopterus. In 1920, Albert koebele used successful biological programs against leaf hoppers by introduction of egg parasitoids from Australia and a predacious mired bug.

First modest biological control laboratory in Canada was established in the University of New Brunswick and by 1960 when importation was stopped. Three important parasitoids had been established as a footing stone for future development. Parker and Thompson set laboratory in France and during 1927-40 imported several parasitoids for biological control of European corn borer, Ostrilia nubilalis. Baird (1923-56) carried out corn borer suppression program in Canada for alfa weevil. Japanese beetle and European Ear wig with the help of USDA, Bureau of Entomology. In 1929, Canadian Entomologist established Dominion parasite Laboratory at Belleville and then new era of biological control was dawned by 1933. In 1940, because of World War II, the Fernharn laboratory (U. S.) was closed and Thompson service later recognized as CIBC i.e. Common wealth Institute of Biological Control.

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