Unexpected Impacts of Insecticides on Biological Control Agents for Fruit Flies

Greg Howard
28th May, 2024

Unexpected Impacts of Insecticides on Biological Control Agents for Fruit Flies

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The University of Catania study tested the compatibility of insecticides with the biological control agent Ganaspis cf. brasiliensis for managing Drosophila suzukii
  • Some insecticides, like abamectin, were found to be highly toxic to G. cf. brasiliensis, reducing its effectiveness as a biological control agent
  • Other insecticides had minimal impact on G. cf. brasiliensis, suggesting they could be used in integrated pest management programs without harming the biological control agent
The spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, is an invasive pest that has become a significant concern for agriculture worldwide due to the extensive economic losses it causes. Traditional pest control strategies primarily involve the use of insecticides, which can negatively impact the marketability of fruits and undermine the sustainability of integrated pest management (IPM) programs. Furthermore, pesticides can adversely affect non-target species by persisting in the environment at low concentrations. The University of Catania recently conducted a study to address these challenges by investigating the compatibility of chemical control with the release of the G1 strain of the Asian larval parasitoid Ganaspis cf. brasiliensis, a biological control agent for D. suzukii[1]. The study aimed to determine whether the use of insecticides could coexist with the release of G. cf. brasiliensis without compromising its effectiveness in managing D. suzukii infestations. This is particularly important because chemical control methods can interfere with biological control agents, reducing their efficacy and potentially causing harm to the ecosystem. Previous studies have highlighted the importance of assessing both acute and sublethal effects of pesticides on non-target species to ensure the success of IPM programs. For instance, research on the generalist predator Orius laevigatus revealed that different pesticides vary significantly in their toxicity and persistence, with some causing substantial mortality and others having minimal impact[2]. Another study demonstrated that biopesticides could cause multiple sublethal effects, affecting the population growth and biocontrol activity of parasitoids like Bracon nigricans, even if they do not cause immediate death[3]. These findings underscore the need for comprehensive evaluations of pesticide impacts on biological control agents. In the University of Catania study, researchers exposed G. cf. brasiliensis to various insecticides commonly used to control D. suzukii. They assessed both the lethal and sublethal effects on the parasitoid to determine the compatibility of these insecticides with the biological control agent. The study found that some insecticides, such as abamectin, had significant negative effects on G. cf. brasiliensis, causing high mortality rates and reducing its effectiveness as a biological control agent. This aligns with previous findings that abamectin is highly toxic to non-target species and can persist in the environment for extended periods[2][3]. Conversely, the study identified several insecticides that had minimal impact on G. cf. brasiliensis, suggesting that these could be integrated into IPM programs without compromising the effectiveness of the biological control agent. This is consistent with earlier research indicating that certain pesticides, such as biopesticides and entomopathogenic fungi, can be selective and non-persistent, making them suitable for use in combination with biological control agents[4]. The findings from the University of Catania study have important implications for the management of D. suzukii infestations. By identifying insecticides that are compatible with G. cf. brasiliensis, the study provides valuable guidance for developing IPM strategies that minimize the negative impacts of chemical control on non-target species. This can enhance the sustainability and effectiveness of pest management programs, ensuring that biological control agents can be used to their full potential. In conclusion, the University of Catania study contributes to the growing body of evidence that highlights the need for careful assessment of pesticide impacts on non-target species. By incorporating both lethal and sublethal effects into their evaluations, researchers can develop more effective and sustainable IPM strategies. This approach not only helps protect valuable biological control agents like G. cf. brasiliensis but also supports the broader goal of maintaining healthy and productive agricultural ecosystems.

AgricultureBiotechAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Non-target effects of neurotoxic insecticides on Ganaspis cf. brasiliensis, a classical biological control agent of the spotted wing Drosophila

Published 27th May, 2024


Related Studies

2) Using organic-certified rather than synthetic pesticides may not be safer for biological control agents: selectivity and side effects of 14 pesticides on the predator Orius laevigatus.


3) Do biopesticides affect the demographic traits of a parasitoid wasp and its biocontrol services through sublethal effects?


4) Is Integrated Management of Gymnandrosoma aurantianum Possible with Trichogramma atopovirilia and Novel Products Used in Citrus Orchards in Brazil?


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