The liabilities of chemical insecticides have encouraged interest in biological controls, which turn natural processes and mechanisms against pest insects and have few if any harmful side effects. Biological controls include using predators, parasites, and pathogens to kill target insects without harming other organisms. In another strategy, huge numbers of sterilized male insects are released to compete with fertile males for mates, diminishing the population of the next generation. Interest is growing in the use of synthetic insect hormones to disrupt pests' vital processes, such as growth; and synthetic pheromones, powerful insect sex attractants, to monitor pest populations, sabotage pest reproduction, and lure pests into traps. In practice, however, some of the environmentally attractive features of biological insecticides—their inherently slow and selective activity, their strict management requirements—can make them economically unattractive to farmers. Increasingly, therefore, biological and chemical methods are coordinated in Integrated Pest Management programs.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.