Since 2000, the Region of Murcia has been implementing strategies for the biological control of pests in different crops with the support of the Council of Water, Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. Their use is noteworthy in the production of tomatoes and peppers, 90% of which are grown in greenhouses.
The Dutch company Koppert Biological Systems, based in Águilas, is dedicated to the breeding of biological control insects and offers a wide range of products and services for the integrated management of pests. This includes bumblebee hives for the setting up of natural pollination systems, a considerable number of macro and beneficial microorganisms for the biological control of pests, and accessories for the implementation of technological control systems, such as adhesive traps and pheromone traps.
Biological control against Tuta absoluta has also been used in greenhouses devoted to tomato cultivation, combining phytosanitary products with a low environmental impact and the release of other beneficial insects. Sexual confusion systems are also implemented in order to prevent the reproduction of harmful insects, such as the vine moth that attacks table grapes. In the case of citrus, there has been success with the release of whitefly predators, such as the Cales noacki.
These programs, developed by the Council through the Plant Health Service and the Murcian Institute for Agricultural and Food Research and Development (IMIDA), were carried out in partnership with the producing sector and beneficial insect breeding companies, thereby becoming a model in the application of Integrated Pest Management systems.
The implantation of this type of insects in our fauna and their acclimatization would be a success, since it would reduce the need for phytosanitary products in agricultural exploitations.
The companies that are dedicated to the introduction of these insects, as well as the insects themselves, have to go through a series of controls from the Administration in order to avoid the entry of exotic insects that could become parasites or hybridize with native species existing in the area where they are produced and released.
These biological and technological control systems are used in the Region in an area greater than 50,000 hectares. More than 250 million insects are released every year and more than six million traps or diffusers are set up.