Harmonia axyridis: an environmental risk assessment for Northwest Europe

J.C. van Lenteren, A.J.M. Loomans, D. Babendreier, F. Bigler

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62 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we summarize the international situation with respect to environmental risk assessment for biological control agents. Next, we apply a recently designed, comprehensive risk evaluation method consisting of a stepwise procedure to evaluate the environmental risks of Harmonia axyridis in Northwest Europe. This resulted in the very clear conclusion that H. axyridis is a potentially risky species for Northwest Europe, because it is able to establish, it has a very wide host range including species from other insect orders and even beyond the class of Insecta, it may feed on plant materials, it can cover large distances (>50 km per year), it does move into non-target areas, it may attack many non-target species including beneficial insects and insects of conservation concern, its activities have resulted in the reduction of populations of native predators in North America, it is known as a nuisance in North America and recently also in Northwest Europe, and it may develop as a pest of fruit in North America. Considering the H. axyridis case, current knowledge would lead to the conclusion that, although the predator is capable to effectively control several pest species, its risks are manifold and it should, thus, not have been released in Northwest Europe. At the time of the first releases in Nortwest Europe in 1995, the available scientific literature made clear that H. axyridis is a large sized polyphagous predator and has a great reproductive capacity in comparison with other ladybird beetles, and that there was a need to study non-target effects because of its polyphagous behaviour. In retrospect, this information should have been sufficient to reject import and release of this species, but it was apparently ignored by those who considered release of this predator in Northwest Europe. The case of Harmonia releases in Northwest Europe underlines that there is an urgent need for harmonized, world-wide regulation of biological control agents, including an information system on risky natural enemy species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-54
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • biological-control agents
  • pallas coleoptera
  • united-states
  • arthropod pests
  • coccinellidae
  • trichogrammatidae
  • establishment
  • hymenoptera
  • biocontrol
  • phenology


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