What is Biological control?

Biological control is the intentional use of host specific natural enemies (predators, parasitoids, and pathogens) by humans to suppress population growth of noxious plants and animals to levels which are no longer damaging. Many of our current agricultural pest problems are amenable to biological control, and when successful, natural enemies provide enduring, environmentally benign, pest control. Biological control is also being used in conservation efforts to restore natural areas invaded by exotic organisms, especially weeds. The emphasis of my work is to identify pest problems where biological control could be successful, locate and release natural enemies, and then evaluate natural enemy impact on pest population growth. 



Hoddle Lab Members


Mark Hoddle

Mark S. Hoddle, Ph.D.

Biological Control Specialist and Principal Investigator 

Dr. Hoddle has headed the research in this laboratory since 1997 and is primarily involved in the identification of pest problems wf biological control could be a successful approach. The location, release and evaluation of natural enemy impacts on population growth features strongly in his research. The evaluation of biological control agents are conducted primarily in the field and, when necessary, aspects of both pest and natural enemy biology and behavior are studied in the laboratory.


Nicola A. Irvin, Ph.D.

Biological Control Specialist and Research Scholar

Dr. Irvin joined the Hoddle laboratory in 2001 as a post doctoral scholar. Dr Irvin has had a heavy focus on researching the glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis (Germar), and its Mymarid wasp biological control agentsGonatocerus ashmeadiG. fasciatusG. triguttatus, and G. tuberculifemur. Currently,  Dr. Irvin is collaborating with Dr. Milosavljević on research investigating whether insectary plants (used to augment populations of natural enemies) and biodegradable hydrogel bead baits (for control of Argentine ants) can enhance natural enemy abundance and increase biological control of citrus pests. 

Ivan Milosavljevic

Ivan Milosavljević, Ph.D

Supervisory Project Scientist

Dr. Milosavljević joined the Hoddle laboratory in 2016 as a postdoctoral researcher. Dr. Milosavljević has had a heavy focus on: 1) researching the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorinacitri), and its primary wasp biological control agents Diaphorencyrtusaligarhensis and Tamarixia radiata; 2) developing detection and control programs for invasive palm weevils (Rhynchophorus palmarum); and 3) mitigating export risks associated with the quarantine thrips (Caliothrips fasciatus). His previous work examined the incidence, risk factors and strategies for management of elaterid soil pests in cereal crops.  

Dr. Milosavljević was promoted to Supervisory Project Scientist in 2020 and awarded a California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) grant to investigate whether insectary plants (used to augment populations of natural enemies) and biodegradable hydrogel bead baits (for control of Argentine ants, Linepithema humile) can enhance natural enemy abundance and increase biological control of citrus pests. Invasive ants eat honeydew excreted by sap sucking pests (aphids, scale, mealybugs, pysllids, etc) and protect these pests from being attacked by their natural enemies. Low-toxicity, soil applied biodegradable alginate hydrogel beads for ant control were developed by Hoddle Lab. This research will provide IPM-based tools for sustainable management of ants and sap sucking insects in citrus. Dr. Milosavljević is collaborating with Dr. Irvin on this project.


Francesc Gomez Marco

Francesc Gomez Marco, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr. Gómez Marco joined the Hoddle laboratory as a Postdoctoral Researcher in June 2019. His previous research experience was on biological control programs and insect ecology on citrus pests principally. He has been working on the Proactive Biological Control Program for the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) which has been sponsored by the Californian Department of Agriculture. The main objective of this project is to develop a biological control program with the parasitoid of the spotted lanternfly Anastatus orientalis and to test the non-target hosts of this parasitoid species on the West coast of USA.

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