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Revista de Ciencias Ambientales

On-line version ISSN 2215-3896Print version ISSN 1409-2158


FERRER WURS, Francisco. Biological control of agricultural pests in Venezuela: Historical achievements of Servicio Biológico (SERVBIO). Ciencias Ambientales [online]. 2021, vol.55, n.1, pp.327-344. ISSN 2215-3896.

Servicio Biológico (SERVBIO), a company located in the Turbio valley, state of Lara, Venezuela and founded by the author between 1977 and 2008, was dedicated to the production of biological controllers and their use in Venezuelan agriculture. SERVBIO began controlling sugarcane borers of the genus Diatraea, with the amazonian fly, Lydella (=Metagonistylum) minense (Diptera: Tachinidae), which was used exclusively up to 1988. After six years of country-wide releases, Cotesia flavipes (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) was established in 1987 in two locations: Ureña (state of Táchira) and Cariaco (state of Sucre), with its massive production starting in 1988. From 1962 to 2011, infestation intensity percentages were reduced from 15 % to 1.68 % in the area of the Rio Turbio Sugar Factory, showing the cost-benefit of biological control from 41.25 to 1. SERVBIO ventured in the production of different biological controllers, especially developing production techniques and applying them to integrated pest management (IPM) programs. The introduction of Telenomus remus (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), a parasitoid of Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), showed since the beginning effectiveness with high parasitism results and savings in the use of pesticides. T. remus is currently used in IPM programs for corn and other grasses. SERVBIO also experimented with the use of the nematode Heterorhabditis bacteriophora to control the “candelilla” or sugarcane spittlebug, Aeneolamia varia, achieving 80 % of control in a farm in Turen (state of Portuguesa); consequently, it is currently implemented in sugarcane IPM. Therefore, efficient biological controllers are used for the key pests of this crop (Diatraea spp. and A. varia). SERVBIO provides educational services, conducts research projects, and offers professional internships, graduate thesis, and internships for undergraduate and graduate students. SERVBIO has also provided advisory services on the installation of laboratories.

Keywords : Cotesia; Diatraea; Heterorhabditis; IPM; Lydella; Telenomus.

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