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Can biological control resolve the larger grai borer crisis?
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The accidental introduction of the lager grain borer, Prostephanus truncates, in the early 1980s result in destructive pest outbreaks in small-farm maize stores in both East and West Africa. Studies comparing the situation in rural maize stores in Costa Rica (in the pest's neotropical area of origin) with that control of natural enemies in Central America and that classical biological control of the pest in Africa might be feasible. The search for appropriate natural enemies is reviewed, with special attention to the predator Teretriosoma nigrescens, which posed special problems in view of its non-specific predation behavior and ability to feed directly on store products. This predator has now been released in three African Countries, but no data are yet available on its impact. The benefits which may be expected from the release of T. nigrescens, and the difficulties involved in quantifying them, are discussed in terms of the principles of population dynamics and biological control. It is concluded that the predator is unlikely to achieve a homogeneous and acceptable level of control, and that supplementary, integrated control measures are likely to be needed, to moderate the damage suffered by individual farmers. The possible form of an integrated control strategy is integrated.