How Insectaries Turn Natural Enemies into Mass Market Products

To profitably market a natural enemy, an insectary must succeed in a series of activities.

Find a suitable natural enemy

Augmentative biological control starts with the discovery of a natural enemy that research suggests may be effec tive. The natural enemy must attack an important pest efficiently, be easily reared under mass production con ditions, able to survive shipping, and be competitive in price with other forms of pest control available to growers.

Develop a mass rearing system

Some species, such as the whitefly parasitoid E. formosa, can be reared cheaply using their natural host on a living plant. In other cases, costs of production or the scale of produc tion are improved by switching to an alternative rearing species other than the target pest. Most Trichogramma wasp species are grown on the eggs of moths that feed on stored grain, rather than on eggs of the target moths themselves, because colonies of grain feeding moths can be reared much more cheaply.

Develop efficient harvest, storage, and shipping methods

Mass reared predators and parasitoids must be released within days of production. Shipping to customers must be rapid (1-3 days) and avoid delays at international borders. Longer delays invariably kill natural enemies due to heat, desiccation, continued development, or starvation.

Provide clear release instructions

The customer must release the natural enemy using the right rate and the correct procedure. Effective rates are discovered by controlled trials in universities and government laboratories, and by experience of growers using products in accordance with advice from producers.

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