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Region: South America > Brazil


Developing an Augmentative Biological-Control program for FAW

By: José Roberto Postali Parra and Aloisio Coelho Jr.


We describe the development of a highly successful Trichogramma program in Brazil, which can be used as a basis for an Augmentative Biological-Control (ABC) program specifically for FAW. The objective of the ABC-FAW program is to use Telenomus remus alone or in combination with Trichogramma. Trichogramma galloi is now being employed as a biological-control agent on 2 million hectares in Brazil, and in recent years the area treated with Trichogramma pretiosum has reached 250,000 hectares.

Research on Trichogramma in Brazil began in the 1940s, aimed at controlling Neoleucinodes elegantalis (Guenée) in tomato crops. These surveys were managed by a group from the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro in Seropédica, RJ. This program was eventually discontinued because of the tomato growers’ strong preference for using phytosanitary products. After a hiatus in research and use of Trichogramma, in the 1980s a group from Minas Gerais, led by Professor George Washington Moraes of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, restarted studies with Trichogramma in Brazil, in order to control forest pests.

In 1984, research on Trichogramma at USP/ESALQ began, under the influence of French researchers led by Dr. Jean Voegelè (Institut national de la recherche agronomique- INRA), who taught a mini-course at ESALQ. In the following year, Prof. José Roberto P. Parra from ESALQ visited France to learn about this topic. The program conducted at ESALQ differed in the comprehensiveness of the topics studied, consolidating the philosophy of developing programs in an inter- and multidisciplinary manner.

After training in taxonomy in partnership with Dr. Bernard Pintureau (INRA) and Prof. John Pinto (University of California-Riverside), Prof. Antônio Roberto Zucchi described a species of parasitoid wasp, Trichogramma galloi Zucchi, 1988, named in tribute to Professor Domingos Gallo (USP/ESALQ), one of the precursors of biological control in Brazil. The natural host of the parasitoid is the sugarcane borer Diatraea saccharalis (F.), and today this parasitoid is used on about two million hectares to control this borer.

Another major milestone in the use of Trichogramma in Brazil was the biological-control program on irrigated tomatoes, conducted at Petrolina, PE and Juazeiro, BA by Dra. Francisca Nemaura Pedrosa Haji (Embrapa- Semiárido) in the 1990s. Trichogramma pretiosum Riley, imported from Colombia, was used to control Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) in an area of ​​1,500 ha, and at the time was one of the most successful examples of this technique. Intense research, teaching and extension activities in this area continued in the following years: Parra and Cônsoli (1992) published the first attempt at an artificial diet for in-vitro rearing of Trichogramma. In 1996, the “I International Workshop on Biological Control with Trichogramma” in Piracicaba, SP brought to Brazil the most eminent world authorities on Trichogramma; and in 1997, Parra and Zucchi edited the book “Trichogramma and Applied Biological Control” which combined the information generated in the workshop. In 2001, in another major milestone for use of Trichogramma, the first company was founded to market the parasitoid in Brazil, with incentives from the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). Parra et al. (2002) edited the book “Biological Control in Brazil: Parasitoids and Predators”, promoting the dissemination of biological control in the country and containing extensive information on Trichogramma. In 2008 the “II International Workshop on Biological Control with Trichogramma” was again held in Brazil, updating the state of the art on Trichogramma worldwide. Cônsoli et al. (2010) gathered the information from the II workshop in the book “Egg Parasitoids in Agroecosystems with Emphasis on Trichogramma”. In another important contribution to expanding the use of Trichogramma, Querino and Zucchi (2012) produced an identification guide for species in Brazil.

After years of intense scientific activity regarding Trichogramma, by 2019 T. galloi was being used on 500,000 hectares of sugarcane to control D. saccharalis. In the 2013–2014 soybean crop season, T. pretiosum was used on ​​250,000 hectares to control Chrysodeixis includens (Walker) and Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner). In the 2018 sugarcane season, T. galloi was released on 2 million hectares, and T. pretiosum, which continues to be ​​used on soybeans and is now used on protected tomato crops, is again being released in irrigated areas in northeastern Brazil, now under the leadership of Dr. Tiago C. Costa-Lima (Embrapa-Semiárido) (Parra and Coelho Jr., 2019).

The major steps of the project initiated at ESALQ in 1984 were:

  1. Sampling, identification and rearing of strains of Trichogramma;
  2. Selection of a factitious host for parasitoid mass rearing;
  3. Biological and behavioral studies of the parasitoid and factitious host;
  4. Dynamics of the eggs of the target pest;
  5. Mass rearing and quality control;
  6. Release techniques, number of parasitoids released, release intervals based on the plant physiology, and number of release points;
  7. Selectivity of agrochemicals;
  8. Field efficiency evaluation;
  9. Cost-benefit analysis.

  Using the Trichogramma program as a model, a wide-ranging research program on FAW was begun in the past few years, covering the above-mentioned aspects. The current team consists of three master’s students (Marilia Corrêa Melo, Alice dos Reis Fortes and Lucas Fonseca Lacerda) and an undergraduate student (Pedro Holtz de Paula), whose notes on their topics can be found here on the Portal. Another master’s student is about to begin the study of factitious hosts for the FAW.


References used.

Cônsoli, F. L., J. R. P. Parra and R. A. Zucchi. 2010. Egg parasitoids in agroecosystems with emphasis on Trichogramma. Springer, New York, USA.


Parra, J. R. P. and R. A. Zucchi. 1997. Trichogramma e o controle biológico aplicado. Piracicaba, FEALQ, Brazil.


Parra, J. R. P., R. A. Zucchi, A. Coelho Jr., L. D. Geremias and F. L. Cônsoli. 2015. Trichogramma as a tool for IPM in Brazil, pp. 472–496 In B. Vinson, S.M. Greenberg, T Liu, A Rao and L.F. Volosciuk [eds.], Augmentative Biological Control Using Trichogramma spp.: Current Status and Perspectives. Northwest A&F University Press, Shaanxi, China.


Parra, J. R. P. and A. Coelho Jr. 2019. Applied Biological Control in Brazil: From Laboratory Assays to Field Application. J. Insect Sci. 19: 1:6.


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