How to apply for a licence to release non-native invertebrate and microbial biological control agents in England.
In England and Wales, under section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, non-native animals are not allowed to be released into the environment (including in glasshouses and polytunnels). An option exists under the same Act to issue licences for the release of otherwise prohibited species, including non-native biological control agents to control plant pests and weeds, if they are assessed as not being a significant risk. The Defra non-native biological control agent (NNBCA) licensing team is responsible for these technical assessments and issuing licences of approved organisms. This includes issuing of licences for microbiological control agents under certain circumstances.
Non-native biological control agents can be one of two types: classical biological control agents or augmentative biological control agents. Classical biological control agents are defined as natural enemies that self-propagate and establish in the introduced environment to suppress pest populations. Augmentative biological control agents, on the other hand, are not expected to establish and are defined as mass produced natural enemies that are periodically introduced into a specific environment to supress pest populations.
All non-native IBCAs are covered under the non-native biological control agent regulatory system.
Non-native MBCAs are also covered under the NNBCA regulatory system if they are a plant health pest being held under quarantine conditions.
MBCAs which are not released as part of a formulated product are the primary responsibility of the Defra NNBCA licensing team and are subject to the relevant NNBCA review process as detailed below.
MBCAs released as part of a formulated product, in contrast, are the primary responsibility of HSE - Biopesticides Home (hse.gov.uk). The Defra NNBCA licensing team should still be informed in these cases, as the Defra NNBCA licensing team needs to carry out an assessment of whether the MBCA can be released from quarantine conditions.
Only biological control agents which are not ordinarily resident in the wild in the UK and not a regular visitor to the UK require a licence. Whilst MBCAs are not covered by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, an assessment to release them may still be required by the Defra NNBCA licensing team.
Applications are only required if there is an intention to release the agent into the environment in England (including in glasshouses and polytunnels). Agents that are being used for research under contained conditions are not assessed by the Defra NNBCA licensing team but should be held under controlled conditions. See the below guidance.
Licences are required for agents intended to control:
See below for lists of non-native invertebrate biological control agents available for use in England and for which a licence is required and non-native invertebrate biological control agents available for use in England and for which a licence is not required.
If you wish to use a biological control agent that does not appear in either of these lists and you are not sure of whether it requires a licence, please contact email@example.com.
Applications can be submitted on the forms provided below, using the guidance documents provided:
Once your application has been submitted, it will go through a review process. This process differs between applications of classical and augmentative biological control agents, based on the potential of the agents to cause wider impacts in the environment.
Classical biological control agents will undergo a series of internal and external reviews as well as a public/stakeholder consultation and a European partner consultation via the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO). A thorough review process is needed as, once these agents are released, there may be no practical measures available for their eradication, and any adverse impacts they have on the environment may be widespread and long lasting.
Augmentative biological control agents, conversely, will just be subject to internal and external reviews before approval. This is a shorter process due to the lower level of risk, with any impacts likely to be transient and limited. However, if the augmentative agent has the potential to establish in the wider environment and cause wider impacts, they will be treated as classical agents and be subject to the entire review process. The following schematic gives a summary of this process for the different types of biocontrol agents.
Once approved, the Defra NNBCA licensing team will issue the required licences for the release. Licences differ based on the type of biological control agent. In most cases, new licences will remain valid for two years but following renewal will remain valid for five years thereafter.
For classical IBCAs, only one licence is issued:
Releaser’s licence– This provides approval for the applicant to release the agent into England and gives the conditions for release, including the criteria for selecting release sites.
For augmentative IBCAs, three types of licence are issued:
Supplier’s licence – This provides approval for the applicant to release the agent into England for research and development and to supply the agent for the purposes of controlling a pest(s). The licence also gives the conditions for release.
Distributor’s licence – This provides approval for the distributor to supply the agent for the purposes of controlling a pest(s). The licence also gives the conditions for release.
Grower’s licence – This provides approval for the end user to release the agent into England. The licence also gives the conditions for release.
All three of these licences are issued to the supplier who is responsible for distributing the licences to the appropriate parties.
A letter will be provided if IBCAs are held under quarantine conditions.
For MCBAs, no licences are issued by the Defra NNBCA licensing team. Instead, a letter is issued giving approval to release the agent from quarantine conditions.
If nothing has changed in the application that alters the risk of the agent since the last licence was issued, a new application is not required. Sending an email to stating that nothing has changed will suffice.
If there are changes that alter the risk of the agent, the applicant will need to send in a revised application to be reviewed by the Defra NNBCA licensing team. Significant changes will need to follow the review process as for new applications.
Reference specimens or ID confirmation will be required for renewals of licences.
|Species||Family||Organism type||Target pest group(s)|
|Amblydromalus limonicus||Phytoseiidae||Predatory mite||Thrips, whitefly|
|Amblyseius degenerans||Phytoseiidae||Predatory mite||Thrips|
|Amblyseius fallacis||Phytoseiidae||Predatory mite||Spider mite|
|Amblyseius montdorensis||Phytoseiidae||Predatory mite||Thrips and whitefly|
|Amblyseius ovalis||Phytoseiidae||Predatory mite||Whitefly|
|Amblyseius swirskii||Phytoseiidae||Predatory mite||Thrips and whitefly|
|Anagyrus fusciventris||Encyrtidae||Parasitoid wasp||Mealybug|
|Aphalara itadori||Aphalaridae||Herbivore||Japanese knotweed|
|Chilocorus nigrita||Coccinellidae||Predatory beetle||Scale insects|
|Delphastus catalinae||Coccinellidae||Predatory beetle||Whitefly|
|Delphastus pusillus||Coccinellidae||Predatory beetle||Whitefly|
|Eretmocerus eremicus||Aphelinidae||Parasitoid wasp||Whitefly|
|Euseius gallicus||Phytoseiidae||Predatory mite||Whitefly, thrips and spider mites|
|Franklinothrips vespiformis||Aeolothripidae||Predatory thrips||Thrips|
|Heterorhabditis bacteriophora||Heterorhabditidae||Parasitic nematode||Vine weevils|
|Heterorhabditis downesi||Heterorhabditidae||Parasitic nematode||Root-eating pests|
|Leptomastix algirica||Encyrtidae||Parasitoid wasp||Mealybug|
|Macrolophus caliginosus||Miridae||Predatory bug||Whitefly|
|Metaphycus flavus||Encyrtidae||Parasitoid wasp||Scale insects|
|Metaseiulus occidentalis||Phytoseiidae||Predatory mite||Spider mite|
|Neoseiulus californicus||Phytoseiidae||Predatory Mite||Spider mite|
|Pseudaphycus maculipennis||Encyrtidae||Parasitoid wasp||Mealybug|
|Trichogramma achaeae||Trichogrammatidae||Parasitoid wasp||Tuta absoluta|
|Trichogramma brassicae||Trichogrammatidae||Egg parasitoid||Moths|
|Species||Family||Organism type||Target pest group(s)|
|Adalia bipunctata||Coccinellidae||Predatory beetle||Aphids|
|Aleochara bilineata||Staphylinidae||Predatory beetle||Flies|
|Amblyseius andersoni||Phytoseiidae||Predatory mite||Mites|
|Anagyrus pesudococci||Encyrtidae||Parasitoid wasp||Mealybug|
|Anagyrus vladimiri||Encyrtidae||Parasitoid wasp||Mealybug|
|Anthocoris nemoralis||Anthocoridae||Predatory bug||Psyllids|
|Anthocoris nemorum||Anthocoridae||Predatory bug||Thrips and psyllids|
|Aphelinus abdominalis||Aphelinidae||Parasitoid wasp||Aphids|
|Aphidius colemani||Braconidae||Parasitoid wasp||Aphids|
|Aphidius ervi||Braconidae||Parasitoid wasp||Aphids|
|Aphidius matricariae||Braconidae||Parasitoid wasp||Aphids|
|Aphidoletes aphidimyza||Cecidomyiidae||Predatory midge||Aphids|
|Bracon hebetor||Braconidae||Parasitoid wasp||Moths|
|Chrysoperla carnea||Chrysopidae||Predatory lacewing||Aphids|
|Chrysoperla lucasina||Chrysopidae||Predatory lacewing||Aphids|
|Cryptolaemus montrouzieri||Coccinellidae||Predatory beetle||Mealybug|
|Dacnusa sibirica||Braconidae||Parasitoid wasp||Leaf miners|
|Dalotia (Atheta) coriaria||Staphylinidae||Predatory beetle||Shore flies and fungus gnats|
|Diglyphus isaea||Eulophidae||Parasitoid wasp||Leaf miners|
|Encarsia citrina||Aphelinidae||Parasitoid wasp||Scale insects|
|Encarsia formosa||Aphelinidae||Parasitoid wasp||Whitefly|
|Ephedrus cerasicola||Braconidae||Parasitoid wasp||Aphids|
|Episyrphus balteatus||Syrphidae||Aphids hoverfly||Aphididae|
|Eupeodes corollae||Syrphidae||Predatory hoverfly||Aphids|
|Feltiella acarisuga||Cecidomyiidae||Predatory midge||Spider mites|
|Leptomastix dactylopii||Encyrtidae||Parasitoid wasp||Mealybug|
|Leptomastix epona||Encyrtidae||Parasitoid wasp||Mealybug|
|Macrocheles robustulus||Macrochelidae||Predatory mite||Thrips and fungus gnats|
|Macrolophus pygmaeus||Miridae||Predatory bug||Whitefly|
|Metaphycus helvolus||Encyrtidae||Parasitoid wasp||Scale insects|
|Micromus angulatus||Hemerobiidae||Predatory lacewing||Aphids|
|Neoseiulus cucumeris||Phytoseiidae||Predatory mite||Thrips|
|Orius laevigatus||Anthocoridae||Predatory bug||Thrips|
|Orius majusculus||Anthocoridae||Predatory bug||Thrips|
|Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita||Phasmarhabditidae||Parasitic nematode||Slugs|
|Praon volucre||Braconidae||Parasitoid wasp||Aphids|
|Propylea quatuordecimpunctata||Coccinellidae||Predatory beetle||Aphids|
|Phytoseiulus persimilis||Phytoseiidae||Predatory mite||Spider mites|
|Rhizobius lophantae||Coccinellidae||Predatory beetle||Scale insects|
|Rhizophagus grandis||Rhizophagidae||Predatory beetle||Dendroctonus micans|
|Sphaerophoria ruepellii||Syrphidae||Predatory hoverfly||Aphids|
|Steinernema carpocapsae||Steinernematidae||pathogenic nematode||Fungus gnats, soil borne insects and vine weevils.|
|Steinernema feltiae||Steinernematidae||pathogenic nematode||Scarab beetles and fungus gnats.|
|Steinernema kraussei||Steinernematidae||pathogenic nematode||Vine weevils|
|Stratiolaelaps scimitus (Hypoaspis miles)||Laelapidae||Predatory mite||Thrips and fungus gnats|
|Trichogramma evanescens||Trichogrammatidae||Egg parasitoid||Moths (including on stored products)|
If you wish to apply for a new licence or renew an existing one in England please contact:
If you wish to apply for a licence in Scotland please email:
If you wish to apply for a licence in Wales please email:
If you wish to apply for a licence in Northern Ireland please email: