Integrated pest management (IPM) which integrates biological, chemical and cultural control methods is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to control insect pests. Biological control often forms an important component of IPM, however, in certain cases the application of chemical pesticides may be required to augment other control methods. The use of pesticides in combination with biological control is usually compromised by the fact that many natural enemies are also arthropods/insects and so are highly susceptible to most insecticides/acaricides.

One approach to circumvent this issue would be to exploit intrinsic and/or evolved insecticide resistance in natural enemies enabling strategies based on the integrated use of biological and chemical control to be devised. Previous studies have demonstrated that natural enemies may be inherently resistant to certain classes of pesticides or may evolve resistance through exposure to insecticides in the field or laboratory, highlighting the potential feasibility of such an approach. We will identify intrinsic and evolved insecticide resistance in natural enemies used to control several important crop pests. The molecular mechanisms underlying resistance will be characterised using state-of-the art approaches. This represents an essential first step towards exploiting ‘natural’ or ‘introduced’ resistance in natural enemies as part of integrated pest management programs (IPM) which rely on biological control and judicious pesticide applications.

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