Ecology of Rearing: Quality, Regulation, and Mass Rearing
A 1992 list of biological control agents sold commercially in North America listed 105 species of arthropods to control arthropods and 27 species of arthropods to control weeds. This chapter describes some of the goals and constraints of commercial mass production of arthropods, how those goals may conflict with requirements of biological control programs, and quality issues as they apply in mass production of arthropod natural enemies. To be viable, commercial mass rearing depends on an economical, predictable, and uniform supply of arthropods. One possible effect is inadvertent selection of a population that is adapted to the mass-production temperature, lighting, and humidity regime. Rearing under conditions that are very productive per unit area nearly always requires the organisms to feed and reproduce for all or part of the rearing cycle under conditions of high population density. Mutual interference between adults leads to a density-dependent decrease in egg production in anthocorids.