The Biological Control of Eucalypt Pests Alliance (BiCEP) was formed in 2013 to better coordinate the research needs internationally for biological control of eucalypt insect pests that had been moving globally over the previous decade and for other pests that were re-emerging as significant issues. Initially we identified the key pests (‘the big five’) that required further research work in Australia and globally. These were: the blue gum chalcid gall wasp (Leptocybe invasa), Bronze bug (Thaumastocoris peregrinus), red gum lerp psyllid (Glycaspis brimblecombei), Eucalyptus gall wasp (Ophelimus maskelli) and the Eucalyptus weevil (Gonipterus sp. complex). These were then allocated into those that needed basic discovery research (discover new biocontrol agents – e.g. for T. peregrinus, L. invasa), those that needed application research (better distribution of existing natural enemies – e.g. L. invasa, O. maskelli) and those that required fine-tuning research (better-matching of existing natural enemy species and bioclimatic types – e.g. Gonipterus and G. brimblecombei).
Initially BiCEP considered T. peregrinus and L. invasa to be the highest priority pests, given their more recent introductions in Brazil and South Africa. More recently, Gonipterus spp. and G. brimblecombei have become of higher importance for BiCEP partners, as the initial efforts to discover new biocontrol agents for T. peregrinus and L. invasa have borne fruit with the releases of Cleruchoides noackae (an egg parasitoid of T. peregrinus) and Selitrichodes neseri (a parasitoid of L. invasa) in both Brazil and South Africa. Partner countries are now monitoring the impacts of these biocontrol agents. As time goes on, biocontrol of these two pests may also require fine-tuning.