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Neil Helyer, Kevin Brown and Nigel D. Cattlin
Portland, OR, 2003
126 pp., $39.95
This handbook seems to have been developed mainly for a lay audience. With >400 high-quality color photographs, the book will be useful to farmers, extension officers, consultants, or students interested in the diversity of organisms important in biological control of pest insects, mites, snails, slugs, and sowbugs. It will be of particular relevance to the home gardener or horticultural professional interested in identifying pests and natural enemies found in the backyard environment. The book is written mostly from a European perspective, but because many pest and natural enemy species are cosmopolitan or related to the species present in Europe, it will also have applicability to other areas of the world with similar environments or cropping systems.
The book is divided into four sections. The first section covers major pest species, notable biological control agents, and the importance of pesticides and other management practices in three crop environments: arable crops, fruit production, and protected crop systems such as glasshouses. The subsection on arable crops focuses on the cultivated production of various field crops and also "set aside" land uses for game cover or natural regeneration. The subsection on fruit production systems describes methods of integrating pesticide use with natural enemies to limit pest damage. A protected crop systems subsection discusses the need for coupled crop and pest monitoring and the evolution of glasshouse biological control. This first section of the handbook ends with a subsection providing practical tips for gardeners hoping to maximize use of parasitoids, predators, and pathogens in backyard pest control.
The second section of this book provides profiles for common pest species that are often suppressed by various natural enemies. The major pest groups addressed include beetles, weevils, leaf miners, fungus gnats, whiteflies, aphids, psyllids, leafhoppers, mealybugs, scale insects, caterpillars, thrips, spider mites, slugs, snails, and sow bugs. A short identification guide at the beginning of this section orients the reader to each pest group using color pictures, plant damage symptoms, and pest characteristics for each of these pest groups along with pictures of commonly associated natural enemies. This is followed by pictures of several typical species in each pest group coupled with a more detailed description of the pests and their natural enemies.
Sections 3 and 4 comprise the majority of the handbook and provide profiles for beneficial arthropods and entomopathogens, respectively. For both sections, profiles include a listing of species characteristics including organism size, details on the typical life cycle, a listing of common crop and pest associations, and how growing practices affect the natural enemies. The treatment of beneficial arthropods was limited but presented a representative overview of predators found in European natural, cultivated, and greenhouse systems by covering 60 species including ladybird beetles (10 species), ground beetles (11 species), rove beetles (5 species), tiger beetles (1 species), earwigs (1 species), dance flies (2 species), cecidomyid midges (2 species), hoverflies (3 species), predatory bugs (11 species), lacewings (2 species), predatory mites (9 species), centipedes (2 species), harvestmen (1 species), and five families of spiders. However, the major importance of ants and wasps as predators was not mentioned. In addition, I felt that hymenopterous parasitoids were short-changed by including only 17 species, which were not organized by taxonomic family. Discussed parasitoids seemed biased in favor of those attacking aphids (6 species) and did not include any species outside the Hymenoptera, e.g., Diptera. The section on entomopathogens included treatment of four species of nematodes, one bacterium (Bacillus thuringiensis), four fungi, and one baculovirus.
References were not provided throughout the text but as a single summary page, which focused mainly on publications produced in Europe. A list of further readings failed to include a number of dated but still highly relevant historical texts but did provide a nice listing of world wide web sites. A glossary of biological control terms and subject and taxonomic indices were included and would be useful to many readers. In summary, the greatest use of this handbook may be the many high-quality colored pictures and its use by a lay audience in an initial orientation to the field of applied biological control.
Joseph G. MorseDepartment of Entomology
University of California
Vol. 35, No. 6, December 2006, Page 1718 - 1719