News and Reviews

Review: Biological Control Projects for Young Scientists

Need some activities or projects to help young people learn about biological control? Try a "Density-dependent Drama" or a "True or False Roundup" to make it interesting. Pests Have Enemies Too: Teaching Young Scientists About Biological Control, by Michael Jeffords and Audrey Hodgins, is a great resource for creating fun, attention-getting programs to help students become aware of what biological control is and how it can be used to help manage various types of pests. This 64 page booklet provides background material to supplement existing curricula and texts on biology, ecology, and environmental education. The sequence of activities gives students a broad overview of biological control and necessary information for making informed decisions about pest control and pest management in the future.

The first portion of the publication discusses what pests and biological control are, and provides brief, basic information on insects classification, mouthparts, life cycles. The reasons why biological control might be used, advantages and disadvantages of biological control are discussed, along with the different types of natural enemies that provide natural control. Finally, conservation, importation, and augmentation are reviewed, along with a couple of examples of classical biological control successes: the vedalia beetle for control of cottony cushion scale in California and the moth Cactoblastis cactorum for control of the introduced cactus weed, Opuntia or prickly pear cactus, in Australia. A glossary completes this section.

The student activities range from card games to cheerleading (for predators, parasites, and pathogens, of course) to board games. There is an objective for each activity, a list of vocabulary to be introduced, a list of required materials needed to complete the activity (including data sheets, game pieces, and handouts to be copied from the publication), and comments to the teacher. The procedures for the activities are explained well, but for some of the more complicated setups, it might be necessary to reread the instructions as the game is being constructed or played. All of the activities can be adapted for a variety of ages within grades 5 to 10. Some of the activities might even serve as science fair projects.

Although no evaluative materials were included, the completed activities and their products should provide teachers with sufficient bases for evaluation.

Pests Have Enemies Too (Illinois Natural History Survey Special Publication 18) includes a sample copy of the poster Natural Enemies: Experience the Power (used in one of the activities) and a classroom set of 30. Additional sets of 30 posters are also available. For ordering information contact:


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