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History of Biological Control

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The development of biological control followed no master plan, but surged or stagnated at the whim of insights, luck, personal endeavor and, in more recent decades, institutional momentum. Biological control efforts can be traced back to the Renaissance period (8th and 9th centuries) when farmers were making use of predacious arthropods. In China and Yemen, ant colonies were purposely moved among citrus and date trees to control pests. These practices, dating back several thousand years, were developed by farmers through direct observation of predators. The striking success in the control of the cottony cushion scale insect pest of citrus in California through the introduction of the Vidalia beetle from Australia in the late 1880s marked the beginning of intensive activities in this field in the 20th century.     

Biological control was first used to control insect, mite and weed pests. Over time, the method was applied to control other invertebrates and plant pathogens. Even vertebrates are now considered as possible targets.