FAQ – Has biological control been considered for weeds in the UK before?

Yes. In 2010 the Japanese knotweed psyllid (Aphalara itadori) was released against Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) as part of a staged release plan. It was the first intentional release of a non-native organism to control an invasive non-native plant in Western Europe. However, there is a long history of using natural enemies to control insect pests in Europe. An example is the release of a specialist predator to control the invasive spruce bark beetle in many EU countries which to this day is still providing a long-term solution to this economic pest. In addition, biocontrol agents are regularly used on a smaller scale within the horticultural industry and even in householders’ glasshouses for example to control aphids, whitefly, mites and other crop pests.