FAQ - the most common questions about biological controls answered
Here is a selection of question that get asked most often when we speak to customers. If you have a different question please get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Do biological controls pose a threat to the ecosystem?
No, the controls we sell are all species that are indigenous to the UK. The industry is heavily controlled and anything that is non native is either unavailable or only available to licenced commercial growers for use in specialist growing environments.
Can I order biological controls for delivery to another country?
We only ship to the UK. Different countries have different native species and different controls on their release. Also, conditions, crops and pests vary greatly from country to country so you should speak to your local specialist. This is a great starting point for finding a supplier outside of the UK - https://www.biolineagrosciences.com/global-sales-contacts/
Are there specific nematodes for specific pests?
Generally yes, some are super specific like the nematodes for slugs. Others crossover so the nematodes for sciarid fly (fungus gnat) is also the nematode used for leatherjacket and vine weevil can be controlled by 2 different species of nematode, one of which is only used in warmer months.
What happens when you release predators indoors/at home?
When releasing predators in your house you are aiming for them to feed on a specific pest. It's important to introduce the correct predator at the correct rate, this information is found on he pest and product pages of the site. The aim is for them to eradicate that pest. In doing that they will end up without a food source and will die out. Once the biological controls have done their job it's time to switch back to monitoring the plants and keeping them and their surroundings clean to stop further infestations.
Can you encourage biological controls to reproduce?
On the whole, no. Unless the level of pests builds back up or is reintroduced they will lack a food source. If you want the predators around then you will need their prey and they tend to be the ones doing damage to your plants! You may get a small number overwintering and re emerging in the spring if they find a cosy spot in your house or greenhouse.
You can and should try and make the conditions optimum for the predators so that they establish themselves and to the job that you bought them for. Sometimes doing this can also reduce pest numbers. For example, red spider mite like warm dry conditions whereas the predatory mite Phytoseiulus like wetter cooler conditions.
How much do I need and do I have enough plants?
If you have pests then you have a food source for their prey so the number of plants isn't really a consideration. Some controls come in set sizes that may mean you end up with leftovers but they can be disposed of or passed on to another plant lover. The rate of application is listed against each product but if you are unsure please get in touch.
Could a population of biological controls get out of control?
Not really, they may reproduce to a point but it is unlikely that there will be enough for them to prey on for the population to grow. They will either die out or migrate out.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using biological controls?
The advantages include their effectiveness, the reduction of use of chemicals and their safety. The disadvantages are that they can be more expensive, they need the right conditions to work and that they are live creatures and we can't 100% control them.
Can you use biological controls as a preventative method of controlling pests?
In some cases yes, the sachets we sell for Thrips and red Spider Mite contain a breeding colony so offer longer protection. The spider mite product will feed on pollen, spores etc in the absence of the pest. If you know that you always suffer with a certain pest then introducing the predator early in the season should give good results. On the whole we would suggest vigilance, as soon as you spot pest damage or signs of a pest being present then introduce the control.
Will a pest come back?
Unfortunately it often will, either because it was never fully eradicated or it comes from another garden, from a new plant, etc.
How often do you need to apply biological controls?
This depends on the control and the pest long with the number of pests present and the time of year. You should be able to find the information on the product page but get in touch if you need more information.
How moist does the soil need to be for nematodes?
It's a balance, they will not survive in dry soil but they can drown. A good test, or analogy if using in open ground, is the squeeze test. If you squeeze the pot and a couple of drop of water come out the bottom it's just right.