How Effective is Biological Pest Control?

In the words of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, “there’s always a bigger fish.” Nature is filled with natural predators and prey, and that fact is the core theory behind one of the most creative forms of pest control: biological pest control.

In essence, biological pest control gets rid of pests by introducing a predator that will cut the population down to size. This is actually one of the oldest forms of pest control, if you count buying a cat as an integrated pest control plan.

But really, how effective is biological pest control? While there have been some success stories, there have also been some pretty notable failures. Even if the predator species manages to wipe out the infestation, well, that leaves the question of how to get rid of the predators once the job is done.

Examples of Biological Control Gone Awry

There is a long history of failed examples of biological control ranging from the hilarious, to the heinous, to the horrific.

For instance, in the 1930s, the sugar cane fields of Queensland, Australia were plagued by sweet-toothed beetles decimating the crops. To combat the infestation, someone had the bright idea of bringing over two suitcases filed with cane toads to send the beetles packing.

With only a hundred toads, what could possibly go wrong? Well, instead of eating the beetles, the toads went on a little walkabout ‘round the Outback. Long story short, there are now a billion-and-a-half cane toads across Australia.

However, the worst examples of biological control come from China’s Four Pests Campaign. In the 1950s, to accelerate food production, the newly-instated Communist government ordered a public campaign to eliminate the four varieties of pest reducing crop yields, in particular sparrows.

But while this method of biological pest control did succeed in driving sparrows to the edge of extinction, it also led to an explosion in the locust population thanks to the disappearance of their natural predator. The resulting famine was widespread and lead to at least 20 million deaths.

The Alternative to Biological Pest Control: IPM

So, what’s the alternative to biological pest control? Terminix Canada specializes in integrated pest management, or IPM. IPM is a holistic, macro approach to commercial and residential pest control based on removing the root causes of pest infestations. This includes measures like habitat removal, or sealing off potential vulnerabilities in a property’s foundations.

While integrated pest control can incorporate pesticides in extreme situations, Terminix opts for organic IPM whenever possible. You can read more about our approach to IPM in this blog.


When you want safe, effective commercial or residential pest control using organic IPM strategies, contact Terminix Canada. Our expert representatives will work with you to create a custom IPM plan that meets your needs.