An introduction to Baculoviruses used as Biological Insecticides

An introduction to Baculoviruses used as Biological Insecticides

Why use baculoviruses to control insect pests?

Baculoviruses are registered biological insecticides used to control pest insects in agriculture and horticulture. Regulated under 1107/2009 they have to be evaluated for their efficacy and safety as any other registered Plant Protection Product (PPP). These natural microbial pesticides are, by their nature, very specific in the species of insect they are able to infect and kill. Often they only target one species. This makes them strong candidates for use in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program as there are no side effects on non-target beneficial organisms or pollinators. Baculoviruses have a mode of action different to other biologicals and synthetic molecules allowing them to be combined in spray mixes or sequential applications to help resistance management of other insecticides.  

  • Proven efficacy against specific target insects
  • IPM compatible along-side macro-biologicals, microbial pesticides, mating disruption and synthetic chemical pesticides
  • Mode of action which makes them suitable insecticide resistance management tools


What are baculoviruses?

The baculoviruses used for biocontrol are naturally occurring viruses which are able to infect insects. Once these natural pathogens are ingested by a suitable insect host they reproduce within gut cells of the insect causing it to become ill and die. Baculoviruses used for biocontrol have a narrow spectrum of activity, often only able to infect the species of insect they were originally isolated from. Classified as microbial biological control agents, in the UK they are regulated on an individual strain level under pesticide legislation (EC 1107/2009).  

Andermatt UK have the following products approved for use: 

  • Madex Top (MAPP 18227). For use against codling moth (Cydia pomonella). For more information click here to see the product page.
  • Capex (MAPP 18258). For use against summer fruit tortrix moth (Adoxophyes orana). For more information click here to see the product page.

Mode of action of a Granulovirus used as a biological control product

Classes of baculoviruses used as biological control products

There are two classes of baculoviruses used a biocontrol agents: 

1. Nucleopolyhedrovirus (NPV) – Mostly contain several virons.

2. Granulovirus (GV) – normally contain a single viron. Both Madex Top and Capex contain granuloviruses.

This baculovirus class classification is often combined with the name of the insect species the virus was originally isolated from to give the strain identification. For example CpGV (Cydia pomonella Granulovirus) in Madex Top and AoGV (Adoxophyes orana Granulovirus) in Capex.


Why use Andermatt baculovirus products?

Andermatt baculovirus products lead the market in performance and ease of handling. Andermatt Biocontrol is the worlds largest manufacturer of baculoviruses used for biological control. Following the launch of the first product Madex® in 1988 the Andermatt group have over 30 years experience manufacturing, formulating and applying these biological insecticides. The Madex® brand continues to be recognised as the market leading CpGV product for control of codling moth (C. pomonella) around the world.

  • Research pipeline ensuring virus strains are the most virulent on the market
  • Global leaders in formulation technology
  • Detailed understanding of optimal application strategies to obtain consistent and reliable product performance


Spodoptera littoralis caterpillar on tomato


Andermatt currently manufacture 14 different products to control pest insects in agriculture, horticulture and forestry. These include:

  • Cryptex – to control False codling moth (Thaumatotibia leucotreta)
  • Helicovex – to control African cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera), Corn earworm (H. zea) and other Helicoverpa species such as H. virescens and H. punctigera
  • Littovir – to control African cotton leafworm (Spodoptera littoralis) and Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda)
  • Loopex – to control Cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni)
  • Lymantria dispar MNPV – to control Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar)
  • Neodiprion abietis NPV – to control Balsam fir sawfly (Neodiprion abietis)
  • Spexit – to control Beet armyworm (Spodoptera exigua)
  • Tutavir – to control Tomato leafminer (Tuta absoluta)


Cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni) caterpillar


How to use baculoviruses in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program?

Baculoviruses have to be ingested by the pest insect to kill them. Application timing is therefore important ensuring a susceptible life-stage is present and can be reached with the application. For example, summer fruit tortrix (A. orana) targeted by Capex can roll leaves to shelter itself and codling moth (C. pomonella) targeted by Madex Top has a limited time between egg hatch and penetrating into the fruit when it will come into contact with the baculovirus product. A combination of monitoring traps, weather station data, site history and computer modelling can be used to calculate optimal application timing. For example Degree Day modelling for Madex Top identifies when egg hatching is expected to occur. More information on codling moth degree day modelling can be found on the Madex Top product page here.

It is also important to consider that baculoviruses are living organisms. There may be limits on suitable tank mix partners. Environmental conditions (such as temperature and Ultra-Violet light) may also affect product performance.


Benefits to the environment.

Baculoviruses have a narrow spectrum of activity. Because of this they can be used to control the specific pest insect without having an effect on non-target organisms, including pollinators, in the surrounding environment.

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