Applied Insect Ecology and Biological Control

Course content

Management of pests requires an ecologically based knowledge and understanding of their biology, lifecycle and their interaction with host plants and their natural enemies. Also, climate and cropping practices will affect these dynamics and the resulting management strategy. The course will focus on management of insects and mites on plants with a special focus on how to apply insect ecological methods and biological control.

Topics covered

  • Applied insect-plant ecology and the influence of abiotic factors and agricultural practices on crop pest and their natural enemies
  • Monitoring and forecasting methodologies and management strategies
  • Natural enemy groups: predators, parasitoids, microorganisms, nematodes and their ecology: life cycles, and mechanisms of action in relation to their prey/host
  • Methods for isolation and selection of biological control organisms, available commercial biocontrol organisms
  • Prevention of attacks and manipulation of pest insects and their natural enemies through rotation and choice of crop, functional biodiversity, cropping system
  • Cases of practical application within agriculture, horticulture, forestry, husbandry, urban environment and other managed landscapes
  • Ethical aspects, public acceptance, legislation and risk assessment


Experimental part

The students will perform and report a limited set of experiments related to biological control. The options may vary from year to year. Examples are:

  • Insect prey and insect predator interactions (behaviour etc)
  • The effect of temperature/diet/host plant on insect herbivore or predator
  • Bio-assays using microorganisms for biological control
  • Behaviour of insect pests to insect pathogens

    Discussion of experiments in relation to relevant literature will be included in the students' short experimental reports.



MSc Programme in Agriculture

MSc Programme in Environment and Development

Learning outcome

Learning outcome

Students will acquire a knowledge of crop pest insects, their natural enemies, and biological interactions (including with the crop itself) supporting environmentally friendly, sustainable pest control.

After the course the student should be able to:

- Describe the principles and methods of monitoring insect pests of crops
- Describe the main methods to prevent and control insect attacks

- Describe and understand the strategies used in insect pest management and biological control
- Know and characterize the main types of organisms currently used for or of future potential for biological control
- Describe methods used for diagnostics, isolation, characterization, bio-assays and field experiments of relevance for functional biodiversity and biological control

- Collect, analyse and process monitoring results and work out and communicate a decision background for growers
- Ability to select an organism for biological control in a specified system
-Ability to select relevant methods to study the interactions between natural enemies, target prey/host and environment, and to analyse results
-Ability to analyse and decide about potential risks using biological control or other management method both in a specified system and in a more general context considering UN sustainability goals (with a special focus on SDG's 12 (responsible consumption and production) and 15 (life on land))
- Ability to use scientific literature to discuss own data

-Digital skills to collect, manage and do basic analyses of monitoring results and experimental data and ability to relate findings to scientific literature

- Explain the major concepts of insect pest management.
- Explain and discuss crop and production system effects on pest insects, natural enemies and other insects.
-  Discuss ethical aspects of insect management

-Ability to transfer the knowledge into other decision processes about multitrophic interactions of ecological relevance
- Ability to perform and analyse experimental work including two or three organisms

-Discuss innovative solutions to integrated pest management
- Ability to transfer the knowledge into other decision processes involving cross disciplinary elements, for example: biology, crop systems’ management, and ethics


The teaching and learning methods will include lectures, theoretical exercises with discussion of original scientific literature with emphasis on conceptual elements, biology of involved organisms and case studies of practical application, as well as a short theoretical group project. Practicals: experimental work in teams, by selecting from a set of options. The experiments should be performed by setting up hypothesis for discussion and finally a short experimental group report. Colloquia: The participants decide with the main teacher about content and form of colloquia. Supervision: Group supervision on report, each team in the laboratory will be supervised concerning methodology, data collection and treatment and discussion. Preparation: for theoretical excercises, colloquia and practicals, preparation (literature reading) is needed.

Hajek AE, Eilenberg J. Natural enemies: an introduction to biological control. 2 ed. Cambridge University Press, 2018. 439 s. The information of which  edition is used can be found on Absalon.

Including scientific articles, book chapters and manuals for experimental parts

Detailed information will be available on Absalon.

Basic knowledge about applied entomology and microbiology is advised.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 min
Type of assessment details
The exam is individual. It will consist of an oral presentation of main results and perspectives of parts of experimental and theoretical reports followed by questions directly related to the presentation and questions related to the overall curriculum of the course. No preparation time.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

Grades are given based on overall fulfilment of course curriculum as demonstrated during the exam. See learning outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 25
  • Class Instruction
  • 20
  • Preparation
  • 70
  • Theory exercises
  • 20
  • Practical exercises
  • 30
  • Project work
  • 20
  • Guidance
  • 15
  • Exam
  • 6
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 2
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board of Natural Resources, Environment and Animal Science
Contracting department
  • Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Stine Kramer Jacobsen   (6-76776c6e756443736f6871316e7831676e)

Jørgen Eilenberg (co-responsible teacher)

Saved on the 11-11-2022

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