Biocontrol Program

Program Details:

The Biological Control Program is a unit within the Integrated Pest Control Branch, and an integral part of the Department's Division of Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services. The Biological Control Program helps to minimize the economic and environmental impact of noxious invasive weeds and exotic insect pests by facilitating the importation and establishment of their co-evolved natural enemies. Implementation requires the rearing of appropriate natural enemies, testing them for host specificity, their release into the state, and evaluation of their impacts in agricultural, natural, and urban environments. The Program's responsibilities are state-wide.

The Program's main facility is in northern California, in Sacramento, the State’s capital. It shares a campus with the Department's Plant Pest Diagnostics Center and the Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry. The current Biological Control Program facility houses two senior scientists, two permanent support staff, and two or more temporary, part-time staff. There are two stand-alone greenhouses, and a shared larger greenhouse. The staff have several on-going projects targeting 13 invasive pests (Table 1). Most of these projects are conducted in cooperation with other county, state, and federal agencies, as well as international institutions overseas. Funding of the program comes primarily from the State's general fund but is also supported by Federal and Industry funding in the form of grants, agreements, and contracts.

TABLE 1. List of active projects for pest weeds and insects.


Target Pest Imported Natural Enemies Inception of Project
Russian knapweed
(Rhaponticum repens)
Aulacidea acroptilonica 2014
Water hyacinth
(Eichhornia crassipes)
Megamelus scutellaris 2010
Diffuse knapweed
(Centaurea diffusa)
Larinus minutus
Bangasternus fausti
Spotted knapweed
(Centuarea stoebe)
Larinus minutus
Terellia virens
Giant reed
(Arundo donax)
Tetramesa romana 2010
Canada thistle
(Cirsium arvense)
Hadroplontus litura
Pucinnia punctiformis(new)
Salt cedar
Diorhabda carinulata 2015


Target Pest Imported Natural Enemies Inception of Project
olive fruit fly
(Bactrocera oleae)
olive psyllid
(Euphyllurae olivina)
Psyllaephagus euphyllurae
brown marmorated stink bug
(Halyomorpha halys)
Trissolcus japonicus
cereal leaf beetle
(Oulema melanopus)
Tetrastichus julis
bagrada bug
(Bagrada hilaris)
Pink hibiscus mealybug
(Maconellicoccus hirsutus)
Gyranusoidea indica

Contact Us

Program Manager: Mike Pitcairn
Integrated Pest Control Branch
Biological Control Program
3288 Meadowview Road
Sacramento, CA 95832
(916) 262-2049

Projects & Resources