Evaluating the efficacy of entomopathogenic nematodes for the biological control of crop pests: A nonequilibrium approach

A. Fenton, R. Norman, J. P. Fairbairn, P. J. Hudson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The efficacy of entomopathogenic nematodes for biological control is assessed using deterministic models. Typically, the examination of such models involves stability analyses to determine the long-term persistence of control. However, in agricultural systems, control is often needed within a single season. Hence, the transient dynamics of the systems were assessed under specific, short-term control scenarios using stage-structured models. Analyses suggest that preemptive application may be the optimum strategy if nematode mortality rates are low; applying before pest invasion can result in greater control than applying afterward. In addition, repeated applications will suppress a pest, providing the application rate exceeds a threshold. However, the period between applications affects control success, so the economic injury level of the crop and the life history of the pest should be evaluated before deciding the strategy. In all scenarios, the most important parameter influencing control is the transmission rate. These findings are applicable to more traditional biological control agents (e.g., microparasites and parasitoids), and we recommend the approach adopted here when considering their practical use. It is concluded that it is essential to consider the specific crop and pest characteristics and the definition of control success before selecting the appropriate control strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)408-425
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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