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Biological Control of Sorghum/Millet Insect Pests with Natural Enemies

Protect crops using natural pest allies for sustainable pest control in Africa

Biological control of insect pests with natural enemies is applied in the field where the pests pose a threat. The natural enemies are released into these areas, where they naturally control the pest population by preying on them or parasitizing them. This method is particularly effective against pests like the Millet Head Miner and the Fall Armyworm. The use of this technology not only helps in reducing crop losses but also contributes to healthier ecosystems and improved food security. It’s a practical and environmentally sound solution to pest-related challenges in agriculture.


This technology is TAAT1 validated.


Scaling readiness: idea maturity 7/9; level of use 7/9

Cost: $$$ 5,000 USD

establishment of parasitoïd colonies for 10,000 farmers

6,000 USD

per year for operation

3—4 USD

per "ready-to-use" bag


Open source / open access


  • Pest Infestations and Food Security: Pests like the Millet Head Miner and Fall Armyworm often infest crops in Sub-Saharan Africa, leading to significant crop losses. This not only impacts the livelihoods of farmers but also poses a threat to the region’s food security.
  • Overuse of Chemical Pesticides and Ecosystem Health: The frequent use of chemical pesticides to control pests can lead to environmental pollution and harm non-target species, disrupting ecosystems. Additionally, these chemicals pose health risks for farmers and consumers, and pests may develop resistance over time.
  • Lack of Accessibility: Many farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa lack access to effective pest management solutions. They may not have the resources or knowledge to use chemical pesticides safely and effectively, leaving them vulnerable to pest infestations and the associated crop losses.


  • Parasitoid Wasp Predation: Introduction of the parasitoid wasp Habrobracon hebetor, which targets the caterpillar of the millet head miner.
  • Caterpillar Control with Parasitoid Wasp: Utilization of the parasitoid wasp Habrobracon hebetor, which attacks the caterpillar, preventing further damage to the seeds.
  • Preventing Severe Infestations: Implementation of biological control techniques, such as releasing natural enemies, to prevent severe infestations and reduce crop losses.
  • Stable Food Supply Assurance: By controlling the millet head miner population, this approach ensures a more stable and sufficient food supply, even in years with variable rainfall.
  • Fall Armyworm Parasitization: Recent work shows that the parasitoid wasp Telenomus remus is a promising biocontrol organism to prevent outbreaks of the Fall Armyworm as it parasitizes the eggs of the pest.

Key points to design your business plan

For farmers

Biological control is most effective when implemented on a larger scale, such as a neighborhood or community of farmers. This is because pests can easily migrate from untreated areas to those where biological control has been implemented. Therefore, it’s crucial for individual farmers to collaborate and coordinate with their neighbors when implementing biological control methods. This collective action can lead to more effective pest management, benefiting all farmers in the community. It’s not just about individual efforts, but about working together for a common goal: sustainable and effective pest management.

For an farmer interested in using biological control, here are the steps:

  1. Education: Learn about biological control, its benefits, and how it works. This could involve attending workshops, training, reading materials, or consulting with agricultural experts.

  2. Identify Pests: Identify the pests that are causing problems in your farm. This will help in determining the appropriate natural enemies to use.

  3. Choose Natural Enemies: Choose the appropriate natural enemies for the identified pests. This could be parasitoids, predators, or pathogens.

  4. Source Natural Enemies: Obtain the natural enemies from a reliable source. This could be a research institution or a local agricultural extension service.

  5. Release Natural Enemies: Release the natural enemies into your farm at the appropriate time and place. The timing and method of release can vary depending on the type of natural enemy and the pest.

  6. Monitor: Regularly monitor the pest population and the effectiveness of the biological control. This will help in determining if additional releases are needed or if adjustments need to be made.

  7. Maintain: Maintain the habitat to support the natural enemies. This could involve practices like reducing pesticide use, providing food sources for the natural enemies, or creating shelter.

Remember, successful biological control requires patience and a commitment to sustainable farming practices. It may take time for the natural enemies to establish and reduce the pest population, but the long-term benefits can be significant.


Positive or neutral impact

Adults 18 and over
Positive high
The poor
No impact
Under 18
Positive low
Positive medium

Positive or neutral impact

Climate adaptability
It adapts really well
Adaptability for farmers
It helps a lot
It helps them grow and thrive
Carbon footprint
It reduces emissions a little
It makes a big difference
Soil quality
It makes the soil healthier and more fertile
Water usage
It uses a little less water

Countries with a green colour
Tested & adopted
Countries with a bright green colour
Countries with a yellow colour
Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia Algeria Angola Benin Botswana Burundi Burkina Faso Democratic Republic of the Congo Djibouti Côte d’Ivoire Eritrea Gabon Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Cameroon Kenya Libya Liberia Madagascar Mali Malawi Morocco Mauritania Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria Republic of the Congo Rwanda Zambia Senegal Sierra Leone Zimbabwe Somalia South Sudan Sudan South Africa Eswatini Tanzania Togo Tunisia Chad Uganda Western Sahara Central African Republic Lesotho
Countries where the technology has been tested and adopted
Country Tested Adopted
Niger Not tested Adopted
Nigeria Not tested Adopted
Senegal Not tested Adopted
Zimbabwe Not tested Adopted

This technology can be used in the colored agro-ecological zones. Any zones shown in white are not suitable for this technology.

Agro-ecological zones where this technology can be used
AEZ Subtropic - warm Subtropic - cool Tropic - warm Tropic - cool

Source: HarvestChoice/IFPRI 2009

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that are applicable to this technology.

Sustainable Development Goal 2: zero hunger
Goal 2: zero hunger
Sustainable Development Goal 12: responsible production and consumption
Goal 12: responsible production and consumption

  • Monitoring Pest and Natural Enemy Populations: Begin by monitoring the population levels of both the harmful insect pests (such as the Millet Head Miner and Fall Armyworm) and their natural enemies in your fields. This can be done using simple tools like traps and magnifying glasses, or more advanced methods like high-resolution cameras fitted onto drones for rapid surveillance of larger areas.

  • Rearing Parasitoid Wasps (Habrobracon hebetor): If the population of natural enemies becomes too low, it's essential to increase their numbers through rearing techniques. This can be achieved using a jute bag filled with 50 grams of millet grains, 30 grams of millet grain flour, and 25 larvae of the rice moth, along with two mated female parasitoid wasps. In about 8 days, these biocontrol agents will reach the adult stage. On average, one jute bag yields around 70 parasitoids in 10 days.

  • Release of Parasitoid Wasps (Habrobracon hebetor): Three jute bags containing the parasitoid wasps should be placed in the field, with one bag in the middle and the others at both ends, at the beginning of the heading stage of millet. This strategic placement ensures effective coverage.

  • Rearing Telenomus remus (for Fall Armyworm Control): For controlling Fall Armyworm, collect sorghum leaves that are infested by the eggs of the pest. Expose these leaves to a mated female wasp in plastic flasks for 2 days, using a ratio of 20 eggs to 1 wasp. The female T. remus produces approximately 200 adults.

  • Release of Telenomus remus (for Fall Armyworm Control): Release T. remus on farms from the windward side of the field. This ensures they are well-positioned to target and parasitize the eggs of the Fall Armyworm.

Last updated on 22 May 2024