COMMON NATURAL ENEMIES
John L. Obermeyer and Robert J. O'Neil
The use of natural enemies to suppress or prevent insect pest outbreaks is termed "biological control." Naturalenemies are called "beneficials" because they are helpful in controlling insect pests. Proper identification andunderstanding of natural enemies, as well as the insect pests attacked by these beneficials, is the first step inimplementing biological control. Biological control can be used in combination with other control measures, suchas mechanical (e.g., removing insect pests) or cultural (e.g., crop rotation) control, resistant crop varieties, andthe judicious use of insecticides. Natural enemies can be classified into three major groups.
attack, kill, and eatmultiple numbers of prey. Predatorsmay feed on a wide variety of pests,or they may be more specific,feeding on one or a few pestspecies.
lay an egg in or on a host,which then hatches and develops atthe expense of the host. Most often thehost is eventually killed as thedeveloping parasite consumes thehost’s organs or body-fluids.
are free-livingmicroscopic organisms (bacteria,fungi, viruses, etc.) that invade thehost’s body and cause disease.The diseased host is greatlyweakened and often killed.
A ladybird beetle devouring an aphidis a familiar sight to most homegardeners.
The three groups of natural enemies are further explained and illustrated on the following pages.
Only the keen observer would seethis minute parasitic wasp lay anegg on the larva of a pest species.An unseen, invading pathogenhas diseased and killed thiscaterpillar.
Department of Entomology