Table 22: Biological Controls for Insect Pests

The products and living organisms listed in this table suppress pests on vegetable farms. Some biological controls are naturally occurring, some are insects purchased by farmers for pest control, and some are microbes formulated for sale as biopesticides.  Most are exempt from EPA registration, and all are allowable for organic production.

Part 1. Established beneficial insects that live on New England farms

Scientific name Common Name Target Pests Comments
Chrysopa and Chrysoperla spp. Green lacewings Aphids, thrips, mites, whiteflies, leafhoppers, small caterpillars, insect eggs Larvae feed voraciously on many small insect pests. Common throughout the US, and available commercially.
Coleomegilla maculata Twelve-spotted ladybeetle Aphids, small caterpillars, small beetle larvae, insect eggs Native to North America. Both adults and larvae are predators. Wide range of prey and of crops and habitats. Feeds on newly hatched larvae as well as insect eggs. Also eats pollen.
Cotesia congregatus Braconid wasp Tomato hornworm Parasitic wasp that lays eggs in hornworm caterpillars.
Cotesia rubecula Braconid wasp Imported cabbageworm (ICW) Parasitic wasp that lays eggs in small ICW. Exits and spins oval, white cocoon. Introduced to New England in 1988; now well established.
Harmonia axyridis Multicolored Asian ladybeetle Aphids Adults have many variable markings. Both adults and larvae are predators. Renowned for invading homes in fall. May be a pest of grapes. Introduced to North America; widespread range.
Orius insidiosus Insidious flower bug Aphids Commonly found in corn. Small (3 mm).
Podisus maculiventris Spined soldier bug Beetle larvae, caterpillars, insect eggs, aphids Prey includes Colorado potato beetle. Both adults and nymphs are predators. Uses piercing sucking mouthparts to feed on soft-bodied insects.
Syrphid species Syrphid fly larva (immature of hover fly) Aphids, small caterpillars Adult hover flies (Syrphids) mimic bees and feed in flowers. Immatures are voracious aphid predators; legless, cream or brown in color, found in aphid colonies.

Part 2: Biological control organisms, released or applied to crops

Scientific name Common Name Target Pests Comments
Beauvaria bassiana Strain GHA Mycotrol ESO, Botanigard Aphids, whiteflies, thrips, Colorado potato beetle This fungus penetrates the insect cuticle, fills its body, kills it, and releases more spores. Apply in the evening and target coverage of lower leaves, as spores are inactivated by sunlight. Use preventatively based on monitoring, before pests reach high levels. Can be tank mixed with other microbials for Colorado potato beetle.

Isaria fumosorosea Apopka Strain 97 (formerly Paecilomyces fumosoroseus)

PFR-97OG, PreferalOG aphids, mites, thrips, whiteflies, leafminers, rootworms, wireworms, grubs, caterpillars A naturally-occurring fungus that penetrates the cuticle of insect pests.
Metarhizium anisopliae Strain F52 Met 52EC thrips, whiteflies, mites Composed of spores of a naturally occurring insect pathogenic fungus. Spores attach to the insect and hyphae penetrate the exoskeleton, growing inside and causing death in 3 to 7 days. Labeled for use as a foliar spray or soil drench on field and greenhouse onions to control thrips, and on field and greenhouse celery, lettuce, spinach, peppers, and tomatoes to control thrips, whiteflies, and mites. Persistence will generally be higher when incorporated into soil, but may be effective for a few months even in foliar applications.
Pediobius faveolatus No common name Mexican bean beetle Small parasitic wasp of the Eulophid family, which attacks larvae of the Mexican bean beetle. Releases should be timed to coincide with egg hatch because wasps lay eggs in young larvae, which are then killed and form a pupal case, or 'mummy' from which a new adult wasp will emerge.
Steinernema and Heterorhabditis species Beneficial nematodes Cutworms, white grubs, wireworms, maggots, beetle larvae, soil-dwelling adult insects Nematodes are very small roundworms. Some species are plant pathogens, but some attack soil-dwelling insects and two in particular (Steinernema and Heterorhabditis) have been mass-reared for commercial use. These seek out and penetrate their host insects, multiply within the host and kill it. They are most likely to be effective against the soil-dwelling immature stages of susceptible hosts. Nematodes require moist soil conditions to survive.
Trichogramma ostriniae No common name European corn borer

Tiny parasitic wasp that oviposits in the eggs of European corn borer. Its larvae grow and pupate in the eggs, preventing borer hatch. Start release when ECB flight begins. In sweet corn, release at 30 to 60k per acre per week, for 2 to 3 weeks per block. In pepper, release 90 to 120k per acre per week over 4 weeks. Reproduces in season but does not overwinter. Available from IPM Laboratories, Locke, NY.

Trichogramma pretiosum No common name Caterpillar eggs May be used in Brassica crops and other crops with caterpillar pests.