Yelitza Colmenarez conducting fields trials

Yelitza Colmenarez conducting fields trials

11 October 2018 – The benefits of using biological controls to fight a range of crop pests threatening food security in the Neotropical region has been highlighted by CABI at the 4th Chilean Biological Control Symposium and the 1st Latin American Biological Control Symposium held this week in the city of Chillán, Chile.

Dr Yelitza Colmenarez, Director CABI Brazil Centre and Regional Coordinator for the Plantwise Programme, delivered a keynote speech to delegates stating that invasive species and the introduction of new pests represents a major challenge for agricultural production in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

She said the intensification of trade between Latin American and Caribbean countries with other regions, among other factors including climate change, has allowed the introduction of a large number of invasive species including the psyllids Diaphorina citri and Aleurocanthus woglumi which cause damage to citrus fruits, spotted wing drosophila Drosophila suzukii and the cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera.

Dr Colmenarez said, “Despite the quarantine strategies and procedures put in place to reinforce phytosanitary surveillance and prevent their entry, new pests of recent introduction in the region are reported every year.

“Biological control, as part of an Integrated Pest Management strategy, play a very important role in fighting pests and increasing the level of sustainable agricultural production in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

The joint symposium brought together researchers, extension workers and students to be updated on the very latest biological controls such as parasitoids, microbial agents and plant substances to fight arthropods. The event also presented the opportunity to learn more about advances in the biological control of various weeds.

Dr Colmenarez added, “The use of parasitoids in biological control programmes has a big potential in the Neotropical region, which can be confirmed by the positive results obtained in the programmes that are being implemented in the region.

“For example, the large areas under sugarcane cultivation in Brazil and to a certain extent in Colombia, employs the larval parasitoid Cotesia flavipes and other species to biologically control the sugarcane borer.

“Helping farmers become more familiar with the use of natural enemies, allowing an efficient integration of biological control with other control methods, could improve its application, increase yields, reduce losses to invasive pests and protect their livelihoods and food security.”

Additional information

Dr Colmenarez’s speech was adapted from her 2018 paper ‘Use of Parasitoids as a Biocontrol Agent in the Neotropical Region: Challenges and Potential’ published by IntechOpen.