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BiocontrolNews and Information 2001 Vol. 22 No. 3 67N – 74N
Biological control of agricultural insect pests
in Venezuela; advances, achievements,
and future perspectives
Servicio Biológico C. A., Carretera Antigua Yaritagua – Barquisimeto,
Sector Chorobobo, Estado Lara, Venezuela
Biological control has been practised in Venezuela from the beginning of the 20th century,
beginning with the classical introductions of Rodolia cardinalis for controlling Icerya
purchasi,Aphelinus mali for the woolly apple aphid (Eriosoma lanigerum), and Apanteles
thurberiae for the cotton pest Sacadodes pyralis. These classical introductions were similar to
those of other countries of Latin America. However, the first practical attempts at controlling
the sugarcane borer, Diatraea spp., were begun in the 1950s with the introduction of the
Amazonian fly, Lydella (= Metagonistylum)minense. Following on from this success, the
most important achievements were the introduction of Prospaltella opulenta by which the
citrus blackfly, Aleurocanthus woglumi, was brought under complete control, and the
introductions of Cotesia flavipes for controlling Diatraea spp. and Telenomus remus for
controlling the armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda. Several laboratories now rear C. flavipes
and T. remus on a large scale in Venezuela. At the same time, the use of Metarhizium
anisopliae and other related entomopathogens was developed, and these are nowadays
produced on a commercial basisand are extensively used in a number of crops.
In South America and the Caribbean region, biological control has
been used with much success since the beginning of the twentieth
century. However, its practical implementation has been slow, with
adequate importance only given to th is aspect in the last few decades.
Biological control in Venezuela has a similar historical background
to that in other Latin American countries, such as in Peru, Argentina
and Bolivia. It began in the 1930s and 40s with the introduction of
the coccinellid Rodolia cardinali s Mulsant [= Vedalia cardinalis]to
control cottony cushion scale, Icerya purchasi Maskell (Hom., Mar-
garodidae), in citrus, and the parasitoids Aphelinus mali (Haldeman)
(Hym, Aphelinidae) and Apanteles thurberiae Muesebeck (Hym.,
Braconidae) to control woolly apple aphid, Eriosoma lanigerum
(Hausmann) (Hom., Aphididae), and the cotton pest Sacadodes
pyralis Dyar (Lep., Noctuidae), respectively.
In recent years a number of institutions, private and governmental,
have introduced beneficial insects. Nevertheless, there are still only
a few crops in V enezuela in which entomophag ous insects have been
used to control other pest insects. This is due, amongst other reasons,
to an absence of technology transfer and to the trend towards using
agrochemical products by producers. However, successful experi-
ence of biological control in crops such as sugarcane, maize and
sorghum raises the expectation that for many other crops biological
control could have major importance from both an economical and
ecological point of view.
Releases and introductions related to the development of biological
pest control in Venezuela are summarized in Table 1.
Biological pest control has been very slow to develop, given how
long ago it was first s uggested as a solution for pest problems in Ven-
ezuela, and the length of time since the first introductions were made.
In 1884, Adolfo Ernst and other members of the Public Utility
Society (Sociedad de Utilidad Pública) proposed the use of the native
parasitoid wasp, Scelio famelicus Riley (Hym., Scelionidae), for
locust control. They indicated that this control method would prob-
ably be successful if it was generally and consistently applied
Between 1939 and 1941, Charles Ballou introduced the predatory
coccinellid Rodolia cardinalis to control Icerya purchasi in citrus,
and two parasitoid species, Aphelinus mali against woolly apple
aphid, Eriosoma lanigerum,andApanteles thurberiae to control
Sacadodes pyralis in cotton (Giraldo, 1988).
68N BiocontrolNews and Information 2001 Vol. 22 No. 3
Table 1. Species of biological control agentsintroduced or released as biocontrol agents in Venezuela.
Date Scientist responsible Control agent Pest Crop
1884 Adolfo Ernst Scelio fermerelis Riley Schistocerca cancellata Serville as
S. paranensis (Burmeister) various
1913 Ernst Cocobacillus acridorium S. cancellata as S. paranensis various
1939-41 Charles H. Balou Rodolia cardinalis Mulsant (as
Vedalia cardinalis)Coccidae citrus
Aphelinus mali (Haldeman) Aphididae fruit crops
Apanteles thurberiae Muesebeck Sacadodes pyralis Dyar cotton
1946-53 Harold Box Lydella minense (Townsend)
(=Metagonistylum minense)Diatraea spp. sugarcane
Paratheresia claripalpis Wulp
1952 Pedro Guagliumi Lixophaga diatraea Townsend Diatraea spp. sugarcane
1956 F. Kern Bacillus thuringiensis Spodoptera frugiperda maize & various other crops
1960 W. Szumkowsky Hippodamia convergens
Guérin-Méneville various pests various crops
1975 Francis Geraud Prospaltella opulenta Silvestri Aleurocanthus woglumi Ashby citrus
1975-80 ANCA1Trichogramma spp. Lepidoptera cotton
1979 F.Linares& Francisco
Ferrer Cotesia flavipes Cameron Diatraea spp. sugarcane
1986 D. Hernández &
Ferrer Telenomus remus Nixon Spodoptera frugiperda maize
1987-92 Ferrer Spalangia endius Walker Muscidae -
Muscidifurax raptor Girault &
1991-92 Ferrer Copidosoma koehleri Blanchard Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) potato, tomato
1991-92 Hugo Chávez Cotesia plutellae Kurdyumov Plutella xylostella (L.) crucifers
1992-99 SERVBIO Chrysoperla externa (Hagen) various pests various crops
baculovirus P. ope rcu lell a potato, tomato
1Asociación Nacional de Cultivadores de Algodón [National Cotton Growers Association].
2Servicio Biológico C.A. [Biological ControlService Company].
Table 2. History of Telenomus remus use in Venezuela.
Year Activity Maize (ha) Other crops (ha) Total Telenomus
released (1000s) Effect
1980-86 laboratory studies
1987 1st field trials 10 4 90% parasitism
1988 field trials 10 200 24-100% parasitism
1989 semi-commercial 50 200 90% parasitism
1990 semi-commercial 120 480 50-80% parasitism
1991 commercial 658 1990 19560 50% reduction
1992 commercial 600 1300 15655 ND1
1993 commercial 100 833 7470 ND1
1994 commercial 1500 1000 19925 50% reduction
1995 commercial 1321 900 17772 50% reduction
1996 commercial 4252 0 25512 50% reduction
1997 commercial 1015 535 9320 50% reduction
1998 commercial 569 0 3414 70% reduction
1999 commercial 1640 200 9838 80% reduction
Totals 1979-99 11845 6758 129350
In 1946, the entomologist Harold Box and his collaborators at the
Ministry of Agriculture at Maracay (Aragua State) began the intro-
duction and breeding of the Amazonian fly, Lydella minense
(Townsend) (= Metagonistylum minense) (Dipt., Tachinidae) to con-
trol sugarcane borers, Diatraea spp. The fly was reared in
laboratories at the Ministry of Agriculture Experimental Station and
the sugarcane factory El Palmar, at Maracay. From this starting
point, several sugar mill companies adopted the method of control-
ling the sugarcane borer, using flies reared under controlled
conditions in specially constructed laboratories. Strains of Parather-
esia claripalpis Wulp (Tachinidae) from Trinidad, Mexico and Peru
were introduced in 1950 and 1952 (Box, 1953). The Cuban fly Lix-
ophaga diatraeae Townsend (Tachinidae) was also introduced in
1952, by Pedro Guagliumi.
Subsequently, the coccinellid Hippodamia convergens Guérin-
Méneville was detected by W. Szumkowski, but there is no record of
its introduction into Venezuela, and it is thought that it could have
migrated from neighbouring countries (Guagliumi, 1962).
The citrus blackfly, Aleurocanthus woglumi Ashby (Hom., Aleyro-
didae) had spread to all parts of the country since 1965, causing
serious damage to citrus. In 1972, the entomologist Jose M. Osorio
Rojas of the West–Central University (Universidad Centro Occi-
dental ‘Lisandro Alvarado’, UCLA) at Barquisimeto (Lara State)
reported on the main natural enemies of this pest in Venezuela for the
first time (Osorio et al., 1972).
In 1975, to combat A. woglumi, experts from the Farmers’ Founda-
tion (Fundación para el Agricultor, FUSAGRI), the Venezuelan
Central University (Universidad Central de Venezuela, UCV), the
National Agricultural Investigation Fund (Fondo Nacional de Inves-
tigaciones Agropecuarias, FONAIAP) and the National Agricultural
Research Centre (Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Agro-
pecuarias, CENIAP) introduced the parasitoid Prospaltella opulenta
Silvestri (Hym., Aphelinidae) from Mexico. This is one of the few
examples of almost complete biological control achieved by the
introduction of a parasitoid (Geraud et al., 1977; Noticias Agricolas,
1978). Further studies on the impact of P. opulenta (Chávez, 1980)
showed that in the Central-Western Region of Venezuela, complete
biological control of A. woglumi was observed 18 months after the
releases were made.
In 1975 the Asian braconid, Cotesia flavipes Cameron, was intro-
duced from Colombia for biological control of Diatraea spp., but
attempts to use it were aborted following unsuccessful initial results.
In 1981, C. flavipes breeding was begun again with material from
Trinidad. Several thousand C. flavipes were produced and released
in a number of regions from 1981 to 1982 by the Biological Control
Service Company (Servicio Biológico C. A., SERVBIO) located in
Barquisimeto, Venezuela (Ferrer, 1984), but without any positive
effects being recorded. Then in 1985, abundant parasitism was
detected for the first time in Ureña (Táchira State) and Cariaco
(Monagas State) (Linares & Ferrer, 1990; Linares & Yepéz, 1992).
More parasitoids were bred and redistributed using specimens cap-
tured at these locations. The programme soon began to achieve good
results after these releases were made. Nowadays, C. flavipes pro-
vides substantial control of Diatraea spp. in several areas of the
country (Ferrer & Guédez, 1990; Linares & Ferrer, 1990).
In 1979, T. remus was introduced by Francisco Ferrer from Trinidad
for controlling the corn armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda J. E.
Smith (Lep., Noctuidae) (Yaseen et al., 1981; Morales et al., 2000).
Parasitoid mass breeding and release began in several regions of the
country. Positive results were obtained in Yaritagua, Yaracuy State
(Hernández et al., 1989). Later T. remus was used extensively in a
number of areas, and in some of these an immediate response was
recorded. For example, in Túren (Portuguesa State), a very humid
area, parasitism reached 90%. In other warmer and drier localities
results were less striking. Overall, as discussed further below, the
parasitoid has reduced the cost of using pesticides in integrated
insect pest management (Ferrer, 1992).
In 1992, 80 million T. remus were produced in an attempt to protect
some 6000-7000 ha of maize, but 80% of the material could not be
distributed owing to lack of coordination between laboratories, pro-
ducers and agricultural companies. Since then, however, T. remus
has been used on a continuous basis in several areas of the country
with good results (Table 2), especially in Las Velas, Yaracuy State,
where the use of pesticides has been reduced by nearly 80%.
Current Status of Biological Insect Pest Control
Various state and private institutions are currently working in bio-
logical control in Venezuela (Table 3), although the main state
institutions have so far done little in the field of technology transfer.
The Entomology Department at UCLA has worked on the biology
and reproduction of Cotesia plutellae Kurdyumov, and is conducting
field tests to assess its ability to control Plutella xylostella (L.) (Lep.,
Plutellidae) (Chávez et al., 1992). This department is also studying
the reproduction of Copidosoma koehleri Blanchard (Hym., Encyr-
tidae), a biological control agent of potato moth, Phthorimaea
opercullela (Zeller) (Lep., Gelechiidae). FONAIAP is involved in
research on and production of Trichogramma spp., while UCV has a
laboratory that produces predatory mites.
Private enterprise has taken a lead in facilitating the implementation
of biological control. For example, the most important advances in
biological control of sugarcane pests have been made by private
companies. The PROBIOAGRO Company (Productos Biológicos
para el Agro, C. A.) annually treats several thousand hectares of sug-
arcane with Metarhizium anisopliae (Metsch) Sorok. to control
Aeneolamia varia (F.) (Hom., Cercopidae) (Sosa & Zambrano,
1987; Zambrano et al., 1987, 1993). This is complementary to the
long-standing use of entomophages against sugarcane borers. In the
1960s and 70s the Institute for the Promotion of Agricultural Produc-
tivity (Instituto para el Fomento de la Productividad Agropecuaria,
IFPA) had seven laboratories producing sugarcane borer parasitoids.
Since 1977, biological control agent production has been a function
of SERVBIO, which currently serves several sugar mill factories,
and has undertaken the work of the IFPA laboratories (Ferrer, 1984).
SERVBIO together with a new Foundation for the Development of
Sugarcane (FUNDACAÑA) have the production capacity to treat
approximately 40,000 ha of sugarcane per year by releasing the
larval parasitoids C. flavipes and L. minense.
Major Uses of Biological Control
The area of production of sugarcane in Venezuela is approximately
120,000 ha, and some 20 factories are involved in the industry,
which produces about 60% of the national needs. Two main pests are
important in the sugar industry in Venezuela: the sugarcane borer
Diatraea spp., which comprises five important species (D. sacchar-
alis (F.),D.rosaHeinrich, D. centrella Moscher,D.impersonatella
(Walker),and D. busckella Dyar & Heinrich), and the sugarcane
froghopper, Aeneolamia varia. These pests cause serious losses
because they blight the leaves of the sugarcane leading to serious
impairment of photosynthesis.
70N BiocontrolNews and Information 2001 Vol. 22 No. 3
Table 3. Main centres workingin biological pest control in Venezuela.
Centre Acronym Expertise1
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y
Tecnológicas National Board of Scientific and
Technological Research CONICIT E, I, P
Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas Venezuelan Institutefor Scientific Research IVIC E, I, P
Fondo Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias National Agricultural Investigation Fund FONAIAP E, I
Centro de Investigaciones del Estado para la Producción
Experimental Agroindustrial State Research Centre for Experimental
Agro-industrial Production CIEPE E, P
Servicio Biológico C.A. Biological Control Service Company SERVBIO CB, E, P
Productos Biológicos para le Agro C.A, Acarigua,
Portuguesa State Biological Products for Agriculture
Company PROBIOAGRO CB, P
Centro de Producción Biológica, C.A., Guaríco State Centre of Biological Production Company CEPROBIOLCA E
AGROBICA C.A., Valencia, Carabobo State Agrobiologicals Company AGROBICA P
Laboratory de Ingenios Azucareros, FUNDACAÑA
Central Matilde (Yaritagua)
Central La Pastora (El Palmar)
Sugar refineries' engineering laboratories E
Asociación Nacional de Cultivadores de Algodón National Cotton Growers Association ANCA E, P
Algonodera Mata, Anzoátegui State Mata Cotton Station ALMACA E
Universidad Centro Occidental ‘Lisandro Alvarado’,
Departamento de Entomología, Barquisimeto, Lara State Central–West University, Entomology
Department UCLA E, I
Instituto de Zoología, Universidad Central de Venezuela,
Fac. Agronomía, Maracay, Aragua State Zoology Institute, Central University of
Venezuela, Agronomy Faculty UCV E,I,P
1CB = general biological control; E = entomophages; I = research; P = entomopathogens.
Table 4. Distribution of IPM costs in commercial maize fields in Portuguesa, Lara, Yaracuy and Barinas States, Venezuela during the rainy season,
State Area (ha) Telenomus releases
(1000s) Monitoring visits Estimated cost without
IPM (US$) Totalcostwith
IPM (US$) Estimated saving
with IPM (US$)1
Portuguesa 501 3350 133 30925 19961 10964
Lara 100 926 31 6173 1969 4204
Yaracuy 759 3365 ND246881 20121 26760
Barinas 200 1600 ND28320 5190 3130
Totals 1560 9241 164 92299 47241 45058
1The overall benefit-cost of IPM was 48.82%.
Table 5. Summary of real costs of IPM rural programme in Yaracuy State, Venezuela in 1997.
Costs of IPM (US$/ha)
community Area (ha) Telenomus Monitoring Insecticide IPM total Real expenditure
with IPM (US$)1Budgeted cost without
Valle Blanco 128 11.49 0.44 10.09 22.02 2819 7466 4647
El Palmar 206 16.11 7.22 9.12 32.43 6681 12016 5335
Las Cañadas 127 10.32 5.24 10.54 26.10 3315 7408 4093
Las Velas 319 8.50 8.45 22.09 39.04 12454 18607 6153
El Rodeo 112 17.55 10.08 6.25 33.88 3795 6533 2738
Agua Viva 52 7.55 10.49 17.70 35.74 1858 3033 1175
Average 11.92 6.98 12.63 31.53
Total 944 30922 55063 24141
1Cost per ha with IPM averaged US$32.76 (Bolivares 16,380); US$1 = Bolivares 500.
2Budgeted costper ha US$58.33 (Bolivares 29,165).
3The benefit-cost of using IPM was 43.84%.
As described above, the Amazonian fly, L. minense, has been
released against Diatraea sugarcane borers continuously since 1951,
and its effectiveness is demonstrated by an average parasitism rate of
17.34% over 36 years (Linares & Ferrer, 1990). This parasitoid
showed a preference for D.saccharalis, which was the dominant spe-
cies in the 1950s. In 1959, Box reported stem-borer populations
comprising 81% D. saccharalis, 11% D. busckella and 7% D. cen-
trella, and he found parasitism rates in D. saccharalis of 45-74%
(Box, 1959). In 1976, the entomologist Jhonny Saldivia stated that
the species proportions had changed to 90% D. busckella, 7% D. sac-
charalis and 3% D. centrella, indicating a significant decrease in the
proportion of D. saccharalis (Ferrer, 1984). In a more recent study,
however, Linares (1987) reported that D. busckella was non-existent
in the Turbio River sugar refinery area (Lara State), but that D. rosa
was present. Although he confirmed that there has been a shift in
Diatraea species composition and relative abundance since biolog-
ical control was first implemented, his work suggests there have been
some mistakes made in species identifications during this period.
Since the first releases, the braconid Cotesia flavipes has also con-
tributed significantly to reducing crop losses from sugarcane borers.
Parasitism rates of 90% have been recorded. In the Turbio River
area, the stem-borer infestation rate (assessed by percentage perfo-
rated internodes) was reduced from 20% (in the 1950s) to 9% in
1981 following continuous release of L. minense. An average infes-
tation rate of 6-7% was maintained until 1988, but this was reduced
further, to less than 2.5%, between 1990 and 1992 following mass C.
flavipes releases (Ferrer, 1995). Similar results have been reported
by many other sugar refineries (Salazar, 1993). The add-on effect of
C. flavipes can be attributed to its ability to parasitize all the predom-
inant species: D. centrella,D. rosa and D. saccharalis.
SERVBIO released 7,051,619 L. minense in the period 1981-92, and
265,337,000 C. flavipes in 1988-99.
Control of the cercopid A. varia byMetarhizium anisopliae was first
attempted in 1986. The first positive results were obtained in small
plots of less than 20 ha (Sosa & Zambrano, 1987; Zambrano et. al.,
1987). Nowadays, most sugarcane growers use microbial biological
control for this pest, but to varying extents.
In 1986-90, CORBICAN-1 mycoinsecticide (containing M. anisop-
liae as the active ingredient) was applied to an accumulated area of
87,000 ha, throughout the country (Molina et al., 1992). In Vene-
zuela, as in Brazil, environmental conditions allow epizootics to be
produced in A. varia. The entomopathogen is becoming increasingly
accepted by sugarcane growers with each successive year (Zam-
brano et al., 1993). For example, El Palmar and Tacarigua sugar
refineries applied the fungus via aerial and terrestrial spraying on
89.87% of their combined sugarcane growing area of 15,000 ha in
1990 (N. Molina, pers. comm.).
Sugarcane is an example of well-organized IPM. The inter-institu-
tional IPM programme for control of Aeneolamia and sugarcane
borers (Programa Inter-Institucional de Combate de la Candelilla y
el Taladrador, PICANTA), formed in 1984, established a workplan
that included monitoring, parasitoid releases and entomopathogenic
applications for each sugar refinery area. Control achievements with
sugarcane borers are illustrated by an economic analysis, which
shows that for each bolivar invested in biological control, a min-
imum of 22 bolivares has been saved (Ferrer, 1995).
However, more threats are emerging. A new pest, the sugarcane del-
phacid, Perkinsiella saccharicida Kirkaldy, has been detected in
Lara and Yaracuy States. This is the main pest of sugarcane in Fiji,
and is thus potentially very serious. In addition, Salazar et al. (1991)
report that Fulmekiola serrata (Kobus) (Thysanopt., Thripidae) is
now causing pest problems in sugarcane in Venezuela.
Maize and sorghum
Maize and sorghum crops are of special importance for a large part
of the Venezuelan rural population; for instance in the year 1988 the
combined area of the crops reached 800,000 ha. The main pests in
these crops are the armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda and, to a
lesser extent, Mocis latipes Guenée (Noctuidae), and Helicoverpa
zea Boddie (Noctuidae). Several pesticides are used for controlling
these pests, but as maize price and production (abou t 3000 kg/ha) are
both low, it is not possible to use excessive control measures. For this
reason, biological control is an alternative that should be taken in
The first field trials with Telenomus remus were conducted near Yar-
itagua (Yaracuy State) in 1987 (see Table 2). Six weeks after the first
releases, 90% parasitism of pest Spodoptera spp. eggs was recorded
within a 100-m radius of the release sites (Hernández et al., 1989). In
1988, another field trial was conducted in order to continue the study
of T. remus dispersion. A total of 165,000 individuals was released
over a 0.8-ha plot. Results indicated 14% parasitism one week after
first releases, and 100% eight weeks later (Meléndez, 1988).
In 1989, semi-commercial releases of T. remus were made around
Turén (Portuguesa State) (Ferrer & Meléndez, 1990). Parallel with
the releases, and as set out in the agreement between the University
of Los Llanos (Barinas, Portuguesa State) and the National Associa-
tion of Cotton Growers (Asociación Nacional de Cultivadores de
Algodón, ANCA), a trial was set up in commercially planted maize
to study (a) levels of Telenomus parasitism in Spodoptera eggs, and
(b) the effective range of the parasitoid. Parasitism levels of 55.7-
71.4% were recorded, and Telenomus was found to be active for a
distance 60 m from the point of release, within 24 h.
In 1990, T. remus was released in an area spread over several states,
a total of 120 ha. In 1991, the release programme covered 658 ha of
winter maize in areas of four states: Lara, Yaracuy, Portuguesa and
Guárico. A total of five million wasps was released and positive con-
trol results were obtained in all except warm dry areas such as, for
example, at El Sombrero in Guárico State (Ferrer, 1992).
At the end of 1991, an IPM programme was begun in sorghum in El
Tigre (Anzoátegui State). The programme was implemented over an
area of 1990 ha by individual producers and was financed by a com-
pany that produces sorghum seeds, Agropecuaria Los Riecitos. A
total of 18,820,000 T. remus was released along with 89.375 square
inches of Trichogramma sp. wasps (one square inch is equivalent to
2500 to 3000 trichogramma wasps). Together the releases led to
farmers reducing their pest control costs by an average of US$23/ha
(at that time US$1 = Bolivares 171) over the budgeted cost for non-
IPM management of close to US$72/ha (12,300 bolivares). Some
farmers saved US$ 50/ha (Ferrer, 1992; Ferrer, 1996). In 1992,
SERVBIO planned the management of 5000 ha of maize using bio-
logical inputs in the winter season. However, only 600 ha in
Portuguesa, Lara and Yaracuy States were included. Producers were
discouraged by low maize prices, and by the fact that loan and input
supplies were made available out of time.
In 1994, IPM programmes implemented in Lara, Yaracuy, Portu-
guesa and Guárico States made cost savings of 49%, compared to the
budgeted cost of non-IPM management. The figures for these states
are summarised in Table 4.
Since 1991, Telenomus remus has been released in Las Velas valley,
Yaracuy State and outstanding results have been obtained over an
72N BiocontrolNews and Information 2001 Vol. 22 No. 3
area of 944 ha (Table 5). The monitoring activity for this programme
was managed by an NGO, the Inter-Institutional Cooperative Move-
ment of Las Velas and El Palmar (Movimiento Ecológico Coopera-
tivo de Investigacion Las Velas–El Palmar, MECOIVEPAL), in
collaboration with SERVBIO, who provided laboratory services and
supplied T. remus to the programme. In 1997 the averagenumber of
Telenomus released was 3848 wasps/ha, together with a small
number of Trichogramma pretiosum Riley (Hym., Trichogramma-
tidae). It was evident that substantial savings were made when insec-
ticide costs were considered. In total, 34.2% and 21.8% of the
amounts of powder and liquid insecticides, respectively, budgeted
for use in non-IPM areas were used in the IPM programme, and the
total cost of Spodoptera control in the IPM area was reduced by
nearly 50% (Ferrer, 1995). In 1999, this success was repeated when
growers from Las Velas applied almost no insecticides in nearly
1600 ha of IPM maize (F. Ferrer, unpublished data).
On this basis, if the maize crop of the whole country, averaging some
300,000 ha, were managed under IPM, the saving would be nearly
3,556,193,200 bolivares, or some US$7 million. This, however, is
likely to be an underestimate of the actual saving, because the budg-
eted cost of pest control in Las Velas rural sector (29,166 bolivares/
ha, or near US$58.33) is low compared to figures for the country as
Spodoptera nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV) is produced by
SERVBIO as one of its research projects in biologic al control, which
aims to provide an alternative for Spodoptera control in maize. In
1992, laboratory and field bioassays were conducted to determine
the infective capacity of Spodopterin, a commercial Spodopera NPV
product produced by Calliope, France (Romero, 1997). At the labo-
ratory level, studies were conducted on inoculation dose, effect of
larval size, and the time scale of virus action. Field applications were
tested on established maize crops. Although more research is still
needed, expertise in laboratory production of NPVs has been devel-
oped, and it is intended to adapt the production system for native
There is potential for integrating NPV use with a wide range of bio-
logical inputs to improve control in the maize system, for example
Nomurea rileyi (Farlow) Samson and Bacillus thuringiensis as well
as Telenomus remus and Trichogramma spp.
Biological control in c otton through Trichogramma spp. releases has
been facilitated by the activities of several laboratories (one of which
is the National Association of Cotton Growers, ANCA) since the
middle of the 1970s. The use of parasitoids has reduced insecticide
applications by a significant amount.
The basic studies for mass rearing Trichogramma s pp. began in 1973
under an agreement between the Cotton Development Fund (FDA),
ANCA, and the Experimental Station at Araure – FONAIAP (Portu-
guesa State). Between 1973 and 1976 releases of this parasitoid to
control Heliothis spp. and Alabama argillacea Hübner (Noctuidae)
were initiated in cotton fields of Portuguesa and Anzoátegui States
in the east of the country. The goal of this project was to establish,
together with other cultural practices, the training of technical per-
sonnel. The application of pesticides was reduced from 14.8 to 6
applications (Salas, 1993). The establishment of a Trichogramma
laboratory was achieved in Anzoátegui in 1987, and recently (1997)
SERVBIO has installed a laboratory in the locality of Sanare (Lara
State) with the aim of controlling several lepidopteran pests on veg-
etables and other crops (Giraldo, 1988).
Trichogramma is a parasitic wasp in common use by the national
producer groups, but this service has been diminished in the last four
years because of a reduction in the areas of cotton in the country.
This reduction was due to the high costs of national cotton produc-
tion compared to imported cotton prices. At present (2001) the
government is providing financial help for the cotton growers and it
seems likely that this will lead to a revival of this crop, with good
prospects for biological control.
Since 1998, an IPM package (which includes the use of chrysopids
and Trichogramma, sticky traps and weekly monitoring) has been in
use in vegetable crop s, and has been particularly successfully applied
in sweet pepper, cucumber, tomato, potato and melon. In 1998 in
Humocaro (Lara State), for example, where sweet pepper is an
important crop, producers made savings of 80% in pest control costs
by adopting the IPM practices rather than applying pesticides in the
conventional programmed manner. In 1999, excellent results were
achieved using chrysopids in melon in Isle of Margarita (Nueva
Esparta State), where there was almost no necessity for pesticide
applications because of successful control of the whitefly (Bemisia
tabaci (Gennadius); Hom., Aleyrodidae) by these predators.
Recently, PROBIOAGRO has begun to produce the entomopatho-
genic fungus Verticillium lecanii (Zimmerman) Viegas for
controlling B. tabaci,Nomurea rileyi for controlling Spodoptera fru-
giperda,andBeauveria bassiana (Balsamo) Vuillemin for
controlling a number of different pests. From 1987 to 1992,
SERVBIO introduced Spalangia endius Walker (Hym., Pteromal-
idae), Muscidifurax raptor Girault & Sanders (Pteromalidae) and
Copidosoma koehleri from the Centre for Introduction and Breeding
of Useful Insects (Centro de Introducción y Cría de Insecto Utiles,
CICIU), Peru; Spalangia cameroni Perkins from Colombia, and
Baculovirus phthorimaea from the International Potato Centre
(CIP), Peru. All of these are currently under investigation and/or in
use. More recently, from 1996 to 1999, SERVBIO has established a
laboratory to produce Trichogramma and Chrysoperla.
Demand for biological control in IPM in Venezuela is growing,
owing to recent pest outbreaks that have affected extensive agricul-
ture. Although physical, budgetary and human resources are limited,
some incentives have appeared to encourage adoption and imple-
mentation of biological control. Many farmers with extensive areas
nical Assistance (Asistencia Técnica Integral, ATI) programme of
PALMAVEN (a subsidiary of the company Petróleos de Vene-
zuela). This organization has an agreement to promote IPM. Field
days have been held to show the effectiveness of IPM, and interest
in it is growing. Some 3500 ha of cereal crops were expected to be
under IPM in 2001. An annual increase in the area under IPM of 5%
is anticipated, as experience has already shown that 50% savings in
the pest control budget can be made (Ferrer et al., 1992). The IPM
package includes: a monitoring system for pests (with the recom-
mendation that chemicals products be used only when the economic
threshold is exceeded), the use of N. rileyi, Telenomus remus and
Trichogramma spp., and various other biologically-based
Even though Venezuelan national organizations are in a critical eco-
nomic situation, research must still be conducted that is directed
towards immediate transfer of IPM technology, to generate income,
which will then help to develop projects. It is essential to establish
better communication inside Venezuela so those projects can be exe-
cuted. Nowadays, very few researchers really understand that the
economic situation means that the Government is not a realistic
source of funding. Instead, a way of tapping other sources from
national and international institutions has to be found so that basic
and applied research can continue. Researchers need to become
more aware of grant-awarding bodies such as the National Board of
Scientific and Technological Research (Consejo Nacional de Inves-
tigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas, CONICIT) and a number of
international organizations. In this context, the formation of an NGO
might be a useful step.
A growing demand for IPM services in a number of crops has arisen
because of a realization of the problems created by misuse of agro-
chemicals. Agricultural products free from pollutants are also
demanded in the majority of industrialized countries, so IPM serv-
ices are becoming essential. However, the reality shows that little
preparation has been made to cope with this change in strategy. In
view of the scattered resources in Latin America to tackle the
problem, technology exchange and improved communications are
vital. In this way, achievements in one country would be able to
spread more quickly to others, and the challenge can be confronted
Many factors affecting the success of biological control need to be
taken into account when working directly with producers. Hence, it
is necessary to deal separately with each social and economic group.
The key approach to technology transfer activities should be through
demonstrations of economic cost-benefit, and the beneficial effects
of biological control on the environment and human health.
The author acknowledges the kind translation of the manuscript by
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