Beneficial insects play an important role in reducing and controlling populations of both plant and insect pests by acting as predators or parasites to these detrimental organisms. There are also insects that are innately beneficial because they act as pollinators or produce products (such as bees that pollinate and produce honey) that are useful to humans, however, the scope of this guide is limited to the beneficial insects that are used for biocontrol.
Biocontrol is a natural means of controlling pests that exploits the innate tendencies of particular living organisms (in this case insects) to regulate the population of another living organism or organisms (plant and insect pests). When utilized optimally, beneficial insects can significantly reduce the need to use chemicals that can harm not only the intended pests, but also the environment, other plant life, and animal life that is not the intended target of the pesticide. Because of the role that they play, beneficial insects are of great interest in the fields of biology, agriculture, and environmental sciences. They are also of great commercial interest since they can be mass-reared and sold for profit and can significantly improve crop and garden yields.
|Search Terms||General Databases||Specialized Databases||Books||Web Resources|
Search terms can be used individually, or they can be combined to limit the number of matches you get when searching the online library catalog or any of the databases. The terms listed below that do not use the word insect will often yield best results when combined with the word insects or the term beneficial insects. With this particular topic, if you want to focus on a particular insect you should determine its scientific name and use the scientific name as a search term, especially when using one of the specialized databases. The common name of the insect will often work for the more general databases and web searches.
The general databases are good resources for basic information on beneficial insects. If you are required to use scholarly publications for a research paper, then the specialized databases are more pertinent resources.
This database's subject coverage includes agriculture, business, and economics, making it a prime general resource for obtaining information on beneficial insects. It includes over 1000 journals that allow full text access to their articles, plus indexes abstracts from more than 2000 additional publications. Searches can be limited to full text only.
Example Search Results:
This database provides broad coverage of the sciences, including biology, ecology, and agriculture. Over 5700 scientific journals are indexed in this database. As suggested by the database's title, citation searches can be performed in this database that allow you to access all indexed articles citing a particular author or work and see related articles to particular citations. You can also perform subject searches with this database.
Example Search Results:
If the articles found in Science Citation Index were too scientific in nature, you might wish to consult these other general databases for more information on beneficial insects: Periodical Abstracts,
InfoTrac-Expanded Academic ASAP, or
Wilson Select Plus.
*Note: The number of hits for each search were current as of 7/17/2004, but will change as the databases are updated. Not all hits were pertinent to the topic.
The specialized databases are good resources for scientific and scholarly publications on the topic of beneficial insects. When searching these databases, if you are focusing on a particular insect, it is important to find the insect's scientific name to improve your search results.
This database's subject coverage includes agriculture, horticulture, land management, environmental resources, biology, and more. With this scope of coverage, CAB Abstracts yields the highest number of pertinent hits for searches on beneficial insects. It includes references to works from over 10,000 different sources, including journals, dissertations, some book chapters, technical news releases, etc. For a manageable results list, perform combined searches with this database.
Example Search Results:
This database covers the topics of agriculture, biology, environmental studies and more. The coverage of these topics is international and works indexed are from varied sources, such as journals, technical reports (some of which are unpublished), government documents, conference papers, etc. This is an excellent database to use if you are curious about the use of beneficial insects in other countries, since there are more than 135 countries that participate in the organizations contributing to this database.
Example Search Results:
Other good specialized databases to consult for the topic of beneficial insects include:
Biological Abstracts (BIOSIS),
*Note: As stated under general databases, the number of hits for each search were current as of 7/17/2004, but will change as the databases are updated. Not all hits were pertinent to the topic. It is of special interest to see the increase in hit rate when using the scientific names of insects when searching the specialized databases.
The books listed below all contain pertinent information on beneficial insects, but the level of coverage on the topic varies. Some books are specifically on the topic of beneficial insects. However, some books contain limited references to the topic of beneficial insects as a whole, but are valuable resources if you would like to concentrate on a specific insect. If you do not wish to visit the individual libraries to obtain the books you want, you may request that the books be sent to the library of your choice. If you need help requesting or locating books, ask a librarian for assistance.
Agricultural entomology /Dennis S. Hill, assisted by Jeremy D. Hill (1994).
Location: UIUC ACES Reference -- Call Number: 632.7 H5511A
Beneficial insects and mites / prepared by Tess Henn and Rick Weinzierl. Alternatives in insect management series Circular / University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service ; v. 1298 (1990).
Beneficial insects; nature's alternatives to chemical insecticides: animal predation, parasitism, disease organisms [1st ed.]/ Swan, Lester A. (1964).
Biological control / Roy G. Van Driesche, Thomas S. Bellows, Jr (1996).
Biological Control and Insect Pest Management / editorial committee, D. W. Davis,.chairman et al. ; contributing authors, M. T. AliNiazee et al. (1979).
Biological control : measures of success / edited by Geoff Gurr and Steve Wratten (2000).
Biological invasions of ecosystem by pests and beneficial organisms / edited by E. Yano et al. (1999). National Institute of Argo-Environmental Sciences (NIAES) Series ; no. 3.
A colour handbook of biological control in plant protection / Neil Helyer, Kevin Brown, Nigel D. Cattlin (2003).
Conservation biological control / edited by Pedro Barbosa (1998).
Critical issues in biological control / edited by M. Mackauer and L. E. Ehler (1989).
Destructive and useful insects : their habits and control, 5th ed. / Robert L. Metcalf and Robert A. Metcalf (1993).
Encyclopedia of insects / editors, Vincent H. Resh, Ring T. Cardé (2003).
Encyclopedia of pest management / edited by David Pimentel (2002).
Enhancing biological control : habitat management to promote natural enemies of agricultural pests / Charles H. Pickett, Robert L. Bugg, editors (1998).
Handbook of biological control : principles and applications of biological control / editors, Thomas S. Bellows, T.W. Fisher ; associate editors, L.E. Caltagirone et al. (1999).
Insects and gardens : in pursuit of a garden ecology / Eric Grissell ; with photographs by Carll Goodpasture (2001).
Insects, experts, and the insecticide crisis : the quest for new pest management strategies / John H. Perkins (1982).
Insects and pest management in Australian agriculture / T.R. New. (2002).
Insect pest management : techniques for environmental protection / edited by Jack E. Rechcigl and Nancy A. Rechcigl (2000). Agriculture and environment series.
Insect wars / Sara van Dyck. First book series (1997). [Children's book]
Interchanges of insects between agricultural and surrounding landscapes / edited by B. Ekbom, M.E. Irwin and Y. Robert (2000).
An introduction to biological control / Robert Van den Bosch, P.S. Messenger, and A.P. Gutierrez (1982).
Mass-reared natural enemies : application, regulation, and needs / Richard L. Ridgway et al., editors (1998). Series: Thomas Say publications in entomology. Proceedings.
Natural enemies : an introduction to biological control / Ann E. Hajek (2004).
Natural enemies handbook : the illustrated guide to biological pest control / Mary Louise Flint and Steve H. Dreistadt (1998).
The new encyclopedia of insects and their allies / edited by Christopher O'Toole (2002).
Novel Approaches to Integrated Pest Management / edited by Reuveni, Reuven (1995).
Predatory Heteroptera : their ecology and use in biological control / Moshe Coll, John R. Ruberson, editors (1998). Series: Thomas Say publications in entomology. Proceedings.
Principles of insect parasitism analyzed from new perspectives : practical implications for regulating insect populations by biological means. Agriculture handbook (USDA) no. 693 / E.F. Knipling (1992).
Theoretical approaches to biological control / edited by Bradford A. Hawkins and Howard V. Cornell (1999).
The use of natural enemies to control agricultural pests / proceedings of International Seminar [on] the Use of Parasitoids and Predators to Control Agricultural Pests, held in Tsukuba, Japan, October 2-7, 1989 (1990). FFTC book series ; no. 40.
What good are bugs? : insects in the web of life / Gilbert Waldbauer (2003).
A worldwide guide to beneficial animals (insects, mites, nematodes) used for pest control purposes / by W.T. Thomson (1992).
The Web pages listed below contain information that will help you to obtain some more general information on beneficial insects and give you the opportunity to learn how to optimize your garden for beneficial insects. All Web sites listed were active as of 7/21/2004.
Association of Natural Biocontrol Producers
This professional organization is commited to using beneficial insects and promoting them to naturally control pests, including plant and insect pests.
Beneficial Insects in Your Back Yard
Beneficial Insects in the Home, Yard and Garden
Beneficial Insects page of Clemson
Biological Control: A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America
Biocontrol for the Public
Biological Control Virtual Information Center
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension: Beneficial Insects and Other Arthropods
Iowa State Entomology Index: Biological Control
Integrated Pest Management for Vegetable Gardens
Midwest Biological Control News
University of Idaho Beneficial Insects Page
Environmental Studies Virtual Library
by Alison Scott
Last updated 08/11/04
Please send us your
comments on this