What is BioControl?
Biological control or biocontrol is the suppression of populations of pests using living organisms. Since 2016, the Alberta Invasive Species Council (AISC) has been the project coordinator for a biological control release program using host-specific insects for invasive weeds in Alberta. The program reintroduces invasive weeds to proven specialist insects from countries where they originated, weakening the competitive advantage these weeds gain from escaping their natural predators in their invaded range. Biocontrol agents are self-sustaining and require little input after they are released, making them a valuable tool in integrated weed management programs.

The Alberta biological control release program started in 2001 as a collaboration between the weed biocontrol research team at Agriculture and AgriFood Canada (AAFC) and seven Agricultural Fieldmen in southern Alberta. Drawing on over 50 years of research screening and establishing specialist biocontrol agents for invasive weeds, the initial weed targeted was leafy surge— an invasive weed from Europe that crowds out native species and produces a sap that is toxic to cattle. Since 2001, the program has expanded to include additional targets, such as houndstongue, Dalmatian toadflax, and knapweeds and has continued to build on AAFC research into new biocontrol agents.

With on-going support from stakeholders, coordination by AISC and research expertise from AAFC, the program has grown from the initial group to collaborate with over 39 different organizations throughout Alberta. Together this partnership has now released and monitored biocontrol agents at over 1,300 locations. Monitoring data collected by the program is reported back to AAFC to improve the implementation of future biocontrol agents.

The program is entirely funded by participants and is operated by AISC as a service for invasive weed managers and landowners to purchase biocontrol agents along with expert consulting on how to most effectively use them.

The program currently offers biocontrol agents for the following invasive weeds:

  • Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula)
  • Dalmatian Toadflax (Linaria dalmatica)
  • Houndstongue (Cynoglossum officinale)
  • Spotted and Diffuse knapweed (Centaurea maculosa and C. diffusa)
  • Russian knapweed (Rhaponticum repens)

A biocontrol agent release costs $900.00  + GST. Included in the cost is a pre-release site visit where AISC staff help select a release location for the agents as well as a site visit in the year following the release to monitor for the establishment of the biocontrol agents.

If you are interested in learning more or ordering biocontrol agents for any of the listed invasive weeds please contact:

Tim Skuse
Biocontrol Program Coordinator
email: AlbertaBiocontrol@gmail.com

Leafy Spurge ('Euphorbia esula')
Leafy Spurge ('Euphorbia esula')
Foliage amage
Foliage damage to a leafy spurge stem caused by the biocontrol agent 'Aphthona lacertosa'.
Hounds-tongue ('Cynoglossum officinale')
Hounds-tongue ('Cynoglossum officinale')
'Mogulones crucifer' - the biocontrol agent for 'Hounds-tongue'
'Mogulones crucifer' - the biocontrol agent for 'Hounds-tongue'
Spotted knapweed ('Centaurea maculosa')
Spotted knapweed ('Centaurea maculosa')
Diffuse knapweed ('C. diffusa')
Diffuse knapweed ('C. diffusa')
Cyphocleonus achates
Cyphocleonus achates,
A biocontrol agent for spotted and diffuse knapweed
Dalmatian Toadflax ('Linaria dalmatica')
Dalmatian Toadflax ('Linaria dalmatica')
Mecinus janthiniformis
Damage to Dalmatian toadflax caused by the biocontrol agent Mecinus janthiniformis
Russian knapweed ('Rhaponticum repens')
Biocontrol agents available for Russian knapweed ('Rhaponticum repens')
MD of Pincher Creek 2018
Five-year impact of the leafy spurge biocontrol agent, Aphthona lacertosa, at a successful release site in M.D. of Pincher Creek.

All photos by Karma Tiberg, courtesy of AAFC, not for re-publication or any other use without  express consent of AAFC

Unregulated species are non-native but widely distributed species in Alberta, they have the potential to cause significant economic or ecological impact and spread easily. 


Don’t see the Fact Sheet you are looking for? Download the AISC Fact Sheet Request Form and send it to info@abinvasives.ca.

The following pests are identified in the Agricultural Pests Act

Don’t see the Fact Sheet you are looking for? Download the AISC Fact Sheet Request Form and send it to info@abinvasives.ca.

Prohibited noxious species must be eradicated by landowners. They are non-native with currently restricted or local distribution in Alberta that present risks of spreading and causing significant economic or ecological impact. They are also non-native species not currently established in Alberta but that occur in neighboring jurisdictions, cause significant economic or ecological impact in those jurisdictions, and are well adapted to Alberta conditions.

The following Prohibited Noxious species are managed under the Weed Control Act

Don’t see the Fact Sheet you are looking for? Download the AISC Fact Sheet Request Form and send it to info@abinvasives.ca.

Noxious species are species that landowners must control to prevent from spreading. These non-native species are already widely distributed in Alberta that have significant economic or ecological impact and can spread easily from existing infestations onto adjoining properties. Relatively easily controlled in small numbers, they can become unmanageable if left uncontrolled and can have a significant impact when abundant.

The following Noxious species are administered by the Weed Control Act:

Don’t see the Fact Sheet you are looking for? Download the AISC Fact Sheet Request Form and send it to info@abinvasives.ca.

Stay tuned for Fact Sheets for all of the aquatic invasive species legislated by the Fisheries Act (Alberta) to be added soon.

“Invasive species can threaten aquatic ecosystems, occupying habitats or out-competing native species. These invasive species may show rapid population growth in the absence of natural predators and may soon become established to the point where eradication is impossible. Aquatic invasive species can be introduced in several ways: either naturally as larvae or as fragments drifting in water currents; or through human activities, attached to boat hulls or in ballast waters for instance. These various invaders pose threats to ecology and the economy. While regulators, scientists, and members of the aquaculture and fishing industries are the most concerned, the problem affects everyone using our waters: recreational boaters, fishers and harvesters, cottage owners, divers, etc. The best approach for protecting our ecosystems from these invaders is to keep them out in the first place, and to do this, everybody’s cooperation is essential.” – Fisheries Canada.

Invasive Species Fish

Freshwater Dwelling Invasive Plants

**also listed as prohibited noxious on Weed Control Act

Freshwater Dwelling Invasive Species other than Plants or Fish

Common Name Scientific Name Conditions for import and possession exemptions to apply


Don’t see the Fact Sheet you are looking for? Download the AISC Fact Sheet Request Form and send it to info@abinvasives.ca.