Search BIREA:

View:   long pages · print version

Containment testing

Host range testing methods

Parameters that can be measured

This section is designed to provide ideas of the range of parameters that might be included within an EPA application to summarise the results of host range testing. In reality an in depth discussion of each parameter is not possible here, as the biology of each target and agent organism will need to dictate the appropriate methods used.

Weed biocontrol

  • Oviposition number of eggs laid
  • Qualitative severity of damage from adult feeding
  • Percentage adult survival when fed only that species
  • Larval development rate fed only that species
  • Larval final body size/ pupal weight fed only that species
  • Sex ratio resulting from larval feeding on only that species
  • Percentage larval survival to pupa or adult fed only that species
  • Oogenesis after larva fed only that species
  • Multi-generation population persistence fed only that species
  • Latency to oviposit or initiate feeding
  • Proportion of population accepting species for oviposition
  • Proportion of population accepting species for feeding
  • Proportion of population located on that plant over time
  • Comparative levels of plant damage The most useful parameters to be measured in any host range test of a weed biocontrol agent is necessarily going to be dictated by the biology and behaviour of the agent. Many of the research papers referred to in this website can assist with designing the most appropriate test and therefore the parameters to be measured. We therefore urge applicants to be familiar with the relevant literature and utilise any specific methods that have been shown to be relevant to biology and behaviour of their proposed biocontrol agent.

    Insect biocontrol (van Driesche and Murray 2004)

    There are almost infinite numbers of parameters that could be measured in host range tests. With parasitoids and predators some common ones are included in the above list. A subset of these are discussed in detail in van Driesche and Murray (2004). The applicant is encouraged to consult this resource as well as being familiar with any behavioural or ecological research on the target or closely related insects. Behavioural research papers can provide invaluable information on the host searching and oviposition or feeding behaviour of the agent. The most appropriate parameters to record can then be identified for each of the host range tests undertaken.


    van Driesche R.G. and Murray T.J. (2004). Parameters used in laboratory host range tests. Pp. 56-67 In: Assessing host ranges for parasitoids and predators used for classical biological control: a guide to best practice, R.G. Van Driesche and R. Reardon (Ed.) USDA Forest Service, Morgantown, West Virginia.