Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Introduced Biocontrols

Some introduced species become invasive, creating serious problems in the ecosystems. Many invasive species are more successful in their new homes than in their homeland. Probably this is due to having left their natural enemies behind.

One way to combat such invasive species is to bring some of their natural enemies into the country. These are called biological controls, or biocontrols for short. The earliest insect introduced as a biocontrol was the lady beetle Rodolia cardinalis (Vedalia Beetle) in 1888. It drastically reduced the populations of Iceria purchasi (Cottony Cushion Scale), saving the citrus industry in California. This resounding success encouraged the use of biocontrolsr.

Since then many species have been intentionally introduced in the United States with the purpose of pest control, and the numbers keep growing. Some introductions have been as successful as the one mentioned above, others don't help much, and still others have turned into pests themselves by feeding on species other than the intended target. A disastrous example was the tachinid fly Compsilura concinnata, introduced to control the Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar). It feeds on 200 species of moths and other insects, including some threatened species. Nowadays, potential biocontrols are tested thoroughly before their introduction to avoid such mistakes.

The number of introduced biocontrols is amazing, at least to me. For instance, more than 150 species of wasps have been brought for this purpose (Simberloff, Invasive Species). He adds that, in Florida, out of 1,000 established introduced insect species, 50 were introduced as biocontrols.

At least 130 introduced biocontrols are listed in BugGuide.net from the estimated several hundreds. I thought it was worth getting them all together in one place along with the invasive species they are expected to control. There seem to be comparable numbers of arthropod pest and of invasive weeds being controlled by these means. There are even a few used for dung control.


Order Hemiptera

Family Anthocoridae - Minute Pirate Bugs
*No common name, Orius insidiosus. From the Palaearctic, to control phytophagous mites and mite eggs, insect eggs, soft-bodied insects
*No common name, Orius tristicolor. From Europe, to control mites, thrips, aphids, etc.
*No common name, Orius vicinus. From the Palaearctic, feeds on soft bodied insects

Family Aphalaridae
*No common name, Boreioglycaspis melaleucae. From Australia, 2002, to control Melaleuca quinquenervia (Punktree)

Family Aphididae – Aphids
*No common name, Aphis chloris. From Europe, 1980s, to control Hypericum perforatum (St. John'swort)

Family Miridae - Plant Bugs
* Mullein Bug, Campylomma verbasci. From Europe, to control aphids, mites, thrips, and pear psylla

Order Coleoptera

Family Brachyceridae
*Salvinia Weevil, Cyrtobagous salviniae. From South America via Australia 2001, to control Salvinia molesta (Giant salvinia)
*Chevroned Waterhyacinth Weevil, Neochetina bruchi.From S America, 1974, to control Eichhornia crassipes (Waterhyacinth)
*Mottled water hyacinth weevil, Neochetina eichhorniae.From S America, introduced repeatedly since 1972 to control Eichhornia crassipes (Waterhyacinth)
*Waterlettuce Weevil, Neohydronomus affinis. From South America, 1987, to control Pistia stratiotes (Water Lettuce)

Family Brentidae – Straight-snouted Weevils
*Seed-feeding Weevil, Exapion fuscirostre. From Europe, 1964, to control Cytisus scoparius (Scotchbroom)
*Gorse Seed Weevil, Exapion ulicis. From Europe, 1926, to control Ulex europaeus (gorse)
*Flower Bud Weevil, Nanophyes marmoratus. From Europe, 1994, to control Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)
*No common name, Omphalapion hookerorum. From Europe, 1990, to control Tripleurospermum perforatum (Scentless Chamomile or Scentless False Mayweed)

Family Buprestidae – Metallic Wood-boring Beetles
*St. John's Wort Root Borer, Agrilus hyperici. From the Palaearctic, 1950, to control Hypericum perforatum (St. John's wort)
*Bronze Knapweed Root Borer, Sphenoptera jugoslavica. From Europe, 1980, to control Centaurea diffusa (Bronze Knapweed)

Family Carabidae – Ground Beetles
*Caterpillar Searcher, Calosoma sycophanta. From Europe, 1905, to control Lymantria dispar (Gypsy Moth) and Euproctis chrysorrhoea (Browntail Moth)
*Golden Green Beetle, Carabus auratus. From Europe, 1940: to control Lymantria dispar (Gypsy Moth)

Family Cerambycidae – Longhorned Beetles
*Leafy Spurge Stem Boring Beetle, Oberea erythrocephala. From Europe, 1979, to control Euphorbia esula (Leafy Spurge)

Family Chrysomelidae – Leaf Beetles
*Alligatorweed Flea Beetle, Agasicles hygrophila. From Argentina and Brasil, 1964, to control Alternanthera philoxeroides (Alligatorweed)
*Brown Dot Leafy Spurge Flea Beetle, Aphthona cyparissiae. From Europe, 1986, to control Euphorbia, esp. E. cyparissias (Cypress Spurge)
*Black Leafy Spurge Flea Beetle, Aphthona czwalinai. From Europe, 1987, to control Euphorbia esula (Leafy Spurge)
*No common name, Aphthona flava. From Europe, 1990s, to control Euphorbia esula (Leafy Spurge)
*No common name, Aphthona lacertosa. From Europe, 1990s, to control Euphorbia cyparissias (Cypress Spurge)
*No common name, Aphthona nigriscutis. From Europe, 1990s, to control Euphorbia esula (Leafy Spurge)
*Broom Seed Beetle, Bruchidius villosus. From Europe, early 1900s, to control Cytisus scoparius (Scotch Broom)
*Thistle Tortoise Beetle, Cassida rubiginosa. From Eurasia, 1901. Introduced accidentally. Used to control thistles
*St. Johnswort Beetle, Chrysolina hyperici. From Eurasia, 1944 to control Hypericum perforatum (Klamath Weed or St. John'swort)
*Klamath Weed Beetle, Chrysolina quadrigemina. Native to Europe and N. Africa, introduced from Australia, 1944, to control Hypericum perforatum (Klamath Weed)
*No common name, Chrysolina varians. From Europe, to control Hypericum (St. John'swort)
*Northern Tamarisk Beetle, Diorhabda carinulata. From Eurasia, 2001, to control Tamarix spp.
*Subtropical Tamarisk Beetle, Diorhabda sublineata. From Eurasia, 2009, to control Tamarix spp.
*Water-lily Beetle, Galerucella nymphaeae. From Europe, to control Nuphar spp. (Water-lilies) and Polygonum spp. (Smartweeds)
*No common name, Gratiana boliviana. From South America, 2003, to control Solanum viarum (Tropical Soda Apple)
*Air Potato Leaf Beetle, Lilioceris cheni. From Eurasia, 1912, to control Dioscorea bulbifera (Air potato)
*No common name, Longitarsus jacobaeae. From w. Palaearctic (Europe to Mongolia), to control Senecio jacobaea (tansy ragwort)
*No common name, Longitarsus quadriguttatus. From Europe,, to control Cynoglossum officinale (Hound's-tongue)
*Black-margined Loosestrife Beetle, Neogalerucella calmariensis. From Europe, to control Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)
*No common name, Neogalerucella pusilla. From the Palaearctic, to control Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)

Family Coccinellidae – Lady Beetles
*Larch Ladybird, Aphidecta obliterata. From Europe, 1960, to control Adelges piceae (Balsam Woolly Adelgid)
*Pine Ladybird Beetle, Brumus quadripustulatus. To control Adelges tsugae (Hemlock Woolly Aldegid)
*Heather Lady Beetle, Chilocorus bipustulatus. From Middle East/Europe to control scale insects, repeatedly since 1905
*Red Chilocorus, Chilocorus circumdatus. From SE Asia, 1996, to control greenhouse pests
*No common name, Chilocorus kuwanae. From Korea, 1980s, to control Unaspis euonymi (Euonymus Scale)
*No common name, Chilocorus nigrita. From Asia, to control various scale insects
*No common name, Clitostethus arcuatus. From Israel, 1989 to control Siphoninus phillyreae (ash whitefly) and other white flies
*Seven-spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata. From Europe, introduced repeatedly to control aphids
*Variable Lady Beetle, Coelophora inaequalis. From Australia, to control Sipha flava (Yellow Sugarcane Aphid)
*No common name, Cryptognatha nodiceps. From Trinidad, 1930s to control Aspidiotus destructor (Coconut Scale)
*Mealybug Destroyer, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri. From Australia, 1891 to control citrus mealybugs and related pests
*Metallic Blue Ladybird Beetle, Curinus coeruleus. From the Caribean, 2013, repeatedly introduced to control Diaphorina citri (Asian Citrus Psyllid) and scale insects and aphids
*No common name, Exochomus metallicus. From Eritrea in 1954. To control citricola and black scales. Attacks Planococcus citri (Citrus Mealybug)
*Steelblue Lady Beetle, Halmus chalybeus. From Australia, recently 2000s? To control scale insects
*Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis. From Asia, introduced repeatedly starting in 1916 to control aphids, thrips, mites, scale insects, and eggs of butterflies and moths
*No common name, Harmonia dimidiata. To control Aphis spiraecola (Spirea Aphid)
*Fourteen-spotted Lady Beetle, Propylea quatuordecimpunctata. From Europe to control Diuraphis noxia (Russian Wheat Aphid))
*No common name, Rhyzobius forestieri. From Australia, 1892, to control scale insects
*No common name, Rhyzobius lophanthae. From Australia, 1892, to control Saissetia oleae (Black Scale)
*Vedalia Lady Beetle, Rodolia cardinalis. From Australia, 1888-1889, to control Cryptochetum iceryae (Cottony Cushion Scale)
*No common name, Sasajiscymnus tsugae. From Japan, 1995 to control Adelges tsugae (Hemlock Woolly Adelgid)
*No common name, Scymnus impexus. From Europe, 1951 to control Adelges piceae (Balsam Woolly Adelgid)
*No common name, Scymnus suturalis. From the Palaearctic, early 1900s to control Adelges tsugae (Hemlock Woolly Adelgid)
*No common name, Stethorus punctillum. From the Palaearctic, to control spider mites, 1955

Family Curculionidae – Snout and Bark Beetles
*Yellow Starthistle Bud Weevil, Bangasternus orientalis. From Europe, 1985, to control Centaurea solstitialis (Yellow Starthistle)
*Large Thistle Weevil, Cleonis piger. From Europe, before 1919, to control thistles
*Knapweed Root Weevil, Cyphocleonus achates. From Europe, 1980s, to control Centaurea (Knapweed)
*Yellow Starthistle Hairy Weevil, Eustenopus villosus. From Europe, 1990 to control Centaurea solstitialis (Yellow Starthistle), Cirsium arvense (Canada Thistle)
*Canadian Thistle Stem Weevil, Hadroplontus litura. From Europe, 1965, to control Cirsium arvense (Canada Thistle)
*Root-feeding Weevil, Hylobius transversovittatus. From Europe, 1992, to control Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife)
*No common name, Hypera rumicis. From Europe, to control Rumex
*Yellow star thistle flower weevil, Larinus curtus. From the Mediterranean and Asia. 1992, to control Centaurea solstitialis (Yellow Starthistle)
*Seedhead Weevil, Larinus minutus. From Europe, 1991, to control Centaurea maculosa (Spotted Knapweed) and C. diffusa (Diffuse Knapweed )
*Canada Thistle Bud Weevil, Larinus planus. From Europe, 1960s, to control Cirsium arvense (Canada Thistle)
*Knapweed Seedhead Weevil, Larinus obtusus. From South and Central Europe, 1993, to control Centaurea (Knapweeds)
*No common name, Larinus turbinatus. From Europe, very recently (2010s?), to control thistles (Carduus and Cirsium)
*Stem-boring Weevil, Mecinus janthinus. From Europe, 1991, to control Linaria spp. (toadflax)
*No common name, Mecinus pascuorum. From Europe, 1956, to control Plantago lanceolata (plantain)
*Puncturevine Seed Weevil, Microlarinus lareynii. From Europe, 1960s to control Tribulus terrestis (Puncturevine)
*Puncturevine Stem Weevil, Microlarinus lypriformis. From India, 1961 to control Tribulus terrestis (Puncturevine)
*No common name, Microplontus edentulus. From Europe, to control Matricaria perforata (Scentless Chamomile)
*Hound's-tongue Root Weevil, Mogulones crucifer. From Europe,
*Melaleuca Leaf Weevil, Oxyops vitiosa. From Australia, 1997, to control Melaleuca (paper bark tree)
*Mediterranean Sage Root Crown Weevil, Phrydiuchus tau. From Europe, 1971, to control Salvia aethiopis (Mediterranean Sage Root)
*Thistle Head Weevil, Rhinocyllus conicus. From the Mediterranean and the Middle East, 1968, to control Carduus nutans (Musk Thistle)
*Mile-a-minute Weevil, Rhinoncomimus latipes. From China, 2004, to control Persicaria perfoliata (Mile-a-minute)
*Toadflax Seedhead Weevil, Rhinusa antirrhini. From Europe, to control Linaria spp. (yellow and Dalmatian toadflax)
*Root-gall Weevil, Rhinusa linariae. From Europe, 1995, to control Linaria spp. (yellow and Dalmatian toadflax)
*No common name, Rhinusa neta. From Europe, 1937, to control Linaria spp. (yellow and Dalmatian toadflax)
*European Curculionid Weevil, Rhinusa tetra. From Europe, earlier than 1916, to control Verbascum (Common Mullein) and and Scrophularia
*Thistle Crown Weevil, Trichosirocalus horridus. From Europe, in 1970-1972, to control thistles

Family Derodontidae – Tooth-necked Fungus Beetles
*No common name, Laricobius erichsoni.From Europe, 1951, to control Cinara spp. and related conifer aphids

Family Kateretidae – Short-winged Flower Beetles
*Toadflax Flower-eating Beetle, Brachypterolus pulicarius. From Europe, before 1920, to control Linaria (Toadflax)

Family Nitidulidae – Sap-feeding Beetles
*No common name, Cybocephalus nipponicus. From China/Korea, recently, repeatedly introduced to control armored scale insects (Diaspididae)

Family Scarabaeidae – Scarab Beetles
*Gazelle Scarab, Digitonthophagus gazella. From Africa/Asia. 1970s for dung removal
*No common name, Euoniticellus intermedius. From Africa, intentionally introduced for dung removal

Order Hymenoptera

Family Aphelinidae
*No common name, Aphytis spp. From East Asia to control Aonidiella aurantii (Red Scale) and other scales

Family Bethylidae
*Navel Orangeworm Wasp, Goniozus legneri. From South America, to control Amyelois transitella (Navel Orangeworm), Cydia pomonella (codling moth), Ectomyelois ceratoniae (Carob Moth), and others

Family Crabronidae
*Mole Cricket Hunter, Larra bicolor. From Bolivia, 1988-89, to control Scapteriscus spp. mole crickets

Family Encyrtidae – Encyrtids
*No common name, Neodusmetia sangwani. From India, 1971, to control Rhodesgrass mealybug (Antonina graminis )
*No common name, Oobius agrili. From China, recently, to control Agrilus planipennis (Emerald Ash Borer)
*No common name, Ooencyrtus kuvanae. From Japan, early 1990s, to control Lymantria dispar (gypsy moth)
*No common name, Psyllaephagus spp. From Australia, 3 spp. to control Psyllids
*No common name, Psyllaephagus bliteus. From Australia, 1998, to control Glycaspis brimblecombei (Red Gum Lerp Psyllid)
*No common name, Tachinaephagus zealandicus. From Australia, 1967, to control Muscoid flies
*No common name, Tetracnemoidea sydneyensis. From Australia, 1933, to control Pseudococcus longispinus (Long-tailed Mealybug) and other Pseudococcus spp.

Family Ichneumonidae – Ichneumon Wasps
*No common name, Bathyplectes curculionis. From the Palaearctic, 1911, to control the Hypera postica (Alfalfa Leaf Weevil)
*No common name, Bathyplectes infernalis. From the Palaearctic to control Donus zoilus (Clover Leaf Weevil)
*No common name, Collyria coxator. From the Palaearctic, to control Cephidae Cephus pygmaeus, Janus integer
*No common name, Eriborus terebrans. From the Palaearctic, from 1927 through 1940, to control Ostrinia nubilalis (European Corn Borer)
*No common name, Exenterus amictorius. From Europe, to control Diprion similis (Introduced Pine Sawfly)
*No common name, Lemophagus curtus. From the Palaearctic, 1969 and 1971, to control Oulema melanopus (Cereal Leaf Beetle)
*No common name, Mesoleius tenthredinis. From the Palaearctic, to control Pristiphora erichsonii (Larch Sawfly)
*No common name, Neotypus nobilitator. From the Palaearctic to control (?)
*No common name, Olesicampe benefactor. From Europe, to control Pristiphora erichsonii (Larch Sawfly)
*No common name, Phaeogenes nigridens. From the Palaearctic, to control Ostrinia nubilalis (European Corn Borer)
*No common name, Phobocampe unicincta. From the Palaearctic, to control Lymantria dispar (gypsy moth)
*No common name, Pimpla instigator. Probably from W Palaearctic, to control Lymantria dispar (gypsy moth)
*No common name, Pimpla turionellae. From the Palaearctic, to control Cydia pomonella (Codling Moth)
*No common name, Pleolophus basizonus. From the Palaearctic, to control Neodiprion sawflies
*No common name, Temelucha interruptor. From the Palaearctic, to control Rhyacionia buoliana (European Pine Shoot Moth)

Family Tiphiidae – Tiphiid Wasps
*Spring tiphia, Tiphia vernalis. From Korea and China, 1925. to control Popillia japonica (Japanese beetle)

Order Lepidoptera

Family Coleophoridae – Casebearer Moths
*Russian Thistle Stem Miner Moth, Coleophora parthenica. From the Mediterranean region to control Salsola tragus (Russian Thistle)

Family Crambidae – Crambid Snout Moths
*Water Veneer, Acentria ephemerella. From Eurasia, 1920s, to control Myriophyllum spicatum (Eurasian Watermilfoil)
*Water Hyacinth Moth, Niphograpta albiguttalis. From South America, 1977 to control Eichhornia crassipes (Waterhyacinth)

Family Depressariidae
*Poison Hemlock Moth, Agonopterix alstroemeriana. From Europe, 1970s, to control Conium maculatum (Poison Hemlock)
*Gorse Tip Moth, Agonopterix nervosa. From Europe, to control Ulex europaeus (Gorse)

Family Erebidae
*Cinnabar Moth, Tyria jacobaeae. From Europe, 1960s to control Senecio jacobaea (Tansy Ragwort)

Family Gelechiidae – Twirler Moths
*Spotted knapweed seed head moth, Metzneria paucipunctella. From the Palaearctic, 1980s, to control Centaurea spp. (Knapweed)

Family Geometridae – Geometrid Moths
*Treble-bar, Aplocera plagiata. From Europe, 1976, to control Hypericum perforatum (St. John'swort)

Family Noctuidae – Owlet Moths
*Toadflax Brocade, Calophasia lunula. From Palaearctic, to control Linaria spp. (yellow and Dalmatian toadflax)

Family Pyralidae – Pyralid Moths
*Alligatorweed Stem Borer Moth, Arcola malloi. From South America, 1972, to control alligatorweed

Family Sesiidae – Clearwing Moths
*No common name, Chamaesphecia empiformis. From Europe, 1970s, to control Euphorbia cyparissias (Cypress Spurge)

Family Sphingidae – Sphinx Moths
*Spurge Hawkmoth, Hyles euphorbiae. From Europe, to control Euphorbia esula (Leafy Spurge)

Family Tortricidae – Tortricid Moths
*Sulphur Knapweed Moth, Agapeta zoegana. From Europe, 1984, to control Centaurea (Knapweed)

Order Diptera

Family Cecidomyiidae - Gall Midges
*Skeleton gall midge, Cystiphora schmidti. From Greece, to control Chondrilla juncea (rush skeletonweed)
*No common name, Cystiphora sonchi. From Europe, to control Sonchus (Sow-thistle)

Family Cryptochaetidae - Scale Parasite Flies
*Cottony Cushion Scale Parasite, Cryptochaetum iceryae. From Australia, 1888 or 1889 to control Cryptochetum iceryae (Cottony Cushion Scale)

Family Phoridae - Scuttle Flies
*No common name, Pseudacteon tricuspis and spp. From South America 1997, to control Solenopsis invicta (Red Imported Fire Ant)

Family Syrphidae - Syrphid Flies
*No common name, Cheilosia grossa. From Europe, to control thistles

Family Tachinidae
*No common name, Compsilura concinnata. From Europe, 1906 to control Lymantria dispar (Gypsy Moth)
*No common name, Exorista larvarum. From Europe, to control Lymantria dispar (Gypsy Moth)
*Winsome Fly, Istocheta aldrichi. From Asia, 1922, to control Popillia japonica (Japanese beetle)
*No common name, Triarthria setipennis. From Europe, 1920s, to control Forficula auricularia (European earwig)

Family Tephritidae - Fruit Flies
*Yellow Starthistle Peacock Fly, Chaetorellia australis. From Europe, 1988, to control thistles
*No common name, Terellia fuscicornis. From Europe to combat thistles
*No common name, Terellia ruficauda. From Europe to combat thistles
*No common name, Urophora affinis. From Europe, 1971, to control Centaurea (Knapweeds)
*No common name, Urophora cardui. From Europe, to control Cirsium arvense (Canada Thistle)
*Brown Knapweed Gall Fly, Urophora jaceana. From Europe, to control Centaurea (Knapweeds)
*No common name, Urophora quadrifasciata. From Europe, 1988, to control Centaurea (Knapweeds)
*Yellow Starthistle Gall Fly, Urophora sirunaseva. From Europe, to control Centaurea solstitialis (Yellow Starthistle)
*Bull Thistle Gall Fly, Urophora stylata. From Europe, 1973, to control Cirsium vulgare (Bull Thistle)

Order Opiliones – Harvestmen

Family Phalangiidae
*No common name, Phalangium opilio. From the Palaearctic, feeds on aphids, caterpillars, leafhoppers, beetle larvae, mites, and small slugs

Order Mesostigmata

Family Eriophyidae
*Skeletonweed Gall Mite, Aceria chondrillae. From Europe, to control Chondrilla juncea (Skeletonweed)
*Lantana Flower Gall Mite, Aceria lantanae. From Central and South America, to control Lantana camara

Family Phytoseiidae
*No common name, Amblyseius swirskii From the Mediterranean to control Thysanoptera (Thrips) and Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Greenhouse Whitefly)

Further Readings
Biological Control Journal
Biological control. Chapter 4
Biocontrol Agents Available for Redistribution. British Columbia. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Biological Control. Cornell U.
Oregon State U. Biological Pest Controls
Washington State U. Biological Control Agents - By Insect
At least 16 species of Tachinidae have been introduced as biological controls (Grenier 1988)


This is a work in progress. I intend to add some links and references. I gladly accept any help. I am sure that there are some typos as well as more serious problems and I know I can count on BugGuide contributors. Thanks in advance.

Fantastic article
I too am amazed at the number of introduced biocontrol species. It is great to see them all compiled in one place.

A couple of extra psyllid-related examples:

Psyllaephagus bliteus, introduced from Australia to control Glycaspis brimblecombei (Red Gum Lerp Psyllid). At least 3 other Psyllaephagus have also been introduced, each one specific on a different introduced Australian psyllid species.


Melaleuca Psyllid, Boreioglycaspis melaleucae, introduced into Florida from Australia to control Melaleuca quinquenervia. This is a rare example of a psyllid being used as a biocontrol in North America instead of being the one controlled for, as M. quinquenervia is an invasive weed in southern Florida. It is also an interesting example of how a biocontrol in one area can be a pest in another: the psyllid was unintentionally introduced into California as well, where M. quinquenervia is not a weed but a common ornamental tree; as such the psyllid has not received as warm of a welcome in that state.

 
Thanks
I will add them. I wouldn't be surprised if we keep finding others.