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Import and release of biological control agents into Canada

Biological control agents are insects, mites, nematodes and other organisms used to control plant pests such as weeds or insects. Despite their potential benefits for managing pests, they present a risk to the environment because they themselves can become pests or carriers of pests.

To prevent direct or indirect harm to plant health, the import and release of biological control agents in Canada is regulated. The regulatory approach includes conducting scientific reviews of requests to release biological control agents and establishing requirements for post-release monitoring.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) sets requirements that govern the import, handling and release in Canada of biological control organisms. These requirements are based on authorities in the Plant Protection Act and are provided in the CFIA's program directive D-12-02: Import Requirements for Potentially Injurious Organisms (Other than Plants) to Prevent the Importation of Plant Pests in Canada.

First release of non-indigenous biological control agents

Before a biological control agent can be released into the Canadian environment for the first time, a petition requesting its release must be submitted to the CFIA. The petition must include information about the safety of the organism. For guidance, please see the resources listed below.

Petitions are reviewed by a Biological Control Review Committee, which is coordinated by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The committee includes taxonomists, ecologists and other scientists from the federal and provincial governments and Canadian universities.

After the petition is reviewed by the committee, the committee makes a recommendation that is considered by the CFIA in its final assessment. The CFIA then communicates its decision to the petitioner.

The following figure illustrates the petition review and assessment process:

CFIA Process for Biological Control Agent Petitions

Picture - Petition review and assessment process. Description follows.

Description of figure – Petition review and assessment process


  • IASDP = Invasive Alien Species and Domestic Programs Section
  • PHRA = Plant Health Risk Assessment Unit
  • BCRC = Biological Control Review Committee

Petition review and assessment process

  • Petitioner sends petition to Chief Plant Health Officer (
  • IASDP reviews petition to determine if it is complete and within CFIA's mandate under the Plant Protection Act
  • If outside mandate, IASDP contacts petitioner to advise that the petition is not required
  • If petition is incomplete, IASDP contacts petitioner to advise that petition must be resubmitted
  • If petition is complete, IASDP consults with PHRA to identify a CFIA representative for the BCRC review process
  • IASDP forwards petition to the Chair of BCRC for review, and identifies the CFIA participant
  • Chair of BCRC forwards BCRC's assessments and recommendations to IASDP
  • IASDP reviews BCRC's assessments and recommendations, in consultation with PHRA as required
  • IASDP sends its recommendation to Chief Plant Health Officer
  • Chief Plant Health Officer communicates the CFIA's decision to the petitioner

Table 1 lists the petitions submitted in Canada since 2000. For each request, it includes the target organism and biological control agent, as well as the status of the request.

The petition process is not required for biological control agents from commercial sources that have already been approved by the CFIA. These Biological Control Agents From Commercial Sources are listed in section 5 of appendix 1 to D-12-02.

A plant protection import permit is required in order to import these approved agents. A permit may be requested using the Application for Permit to Import Plants and Other Things under the Plant Protection Act.

Note: When requesting to import predatory mites, importers must specify on their application the prey mites that are used as a food source for this biological control agent.

Table 1: Status of petitions proposing to release biological control agents in Canada since 2000
Year of submission Target organisms Biological control agents Status
2022 Butomus umbellatus L. (flowering rush) Bagous nodulosus Gyllenhal Under review
2021 Leucanthemum vulgare Lam (oxeye daisy) Dichrorampha aeratana Under review
2019 Elaeagnus angustifolia L. (Russian olive) Aceria angustifoliae Denizhan Approved
2018 Alliaria petiolata (M.Bieb.) Cavara & Grande (garlic mustard) Ceutorhynchus scrobicollis Neresheimer & Wagner Approved
2018 Halyomorpha halys (Stål) (brown marmorated stink bug) Trissolcus japonicus (Ashmead) Denied
2018 Phragmites australis(Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. (common reed) Lenisia geminipuncta (Haworth);
Archanara neurica (Hübner)
2017 Ceutorhynchus obstrictus (Marsham) (cabbage seedpod weevil) Trichomalus perfectus (Walker) Denied
2016 Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire (emerald ash borer) Spathius galinae Belokobylskij & Strazanac Approved
2015 Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire (emerald ash borer) Oobius agrili Zhang & Huang Approved
2014 Pilosella aurantiaca (L.); P. caespitose (Dumort.); P. flagellaris (Willd.); P. floribunda (Wimm. & Grab.); P. glomerata (Froel.); P. officinarum Vaill., P. piloselloides (Vill.) (hawkweeds) Cheilosia urbana (Meigen) Approved
2013 Lilioceris lilii Scopoli (lily leaf beetle) Lemophagus errabundus (Gravenhorst) Approved
2013 Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire (emerald ash borer) Spathius agrili Yang Approved
2013 Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire (emerald ash borer) Tetrastichus planipennisi Yang Approved
2013 Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (tobacco whitefly) Encarsia sophia (Girault & Dodd) Approved
2012 Linaria vulgaris Mill. (yellow toadflax) Rhinusa pilosa Gyllenhal Approved
2012 Fallopia sachalinensis (F. Schmidt ex Maxim.) Dcne.; Fallopia japonica (Houtt.) Dcne.; Fallopia x bohemica (Chrtek & Chrtková) JP Bailey (knotweeds) Aphalara itadori Shinji Approved
2011 Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood) (glasshouse whitefly); Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (tobacco whitefly); Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (western flower thrips); Eriophyid mites

(Typhlodromips) montdorensis Schicha

2011 Vincetoxicum nigrum (L.) (black swallow-wort); Vincetoxicum rossicum (Kleopow) Barbarich (pale swallow-wort)

Hypena opulenta (Christoph)

2009 Hieracium pilosella L., H. aurantiacum L., H. Floribundum Wimm. & Grab., H. x flagellare Wild. (caespitosum x pilosella) (hawkweeds) Aulacidea subterminalis Niblett Approved
2009 Dung & dung pests Digitonthophagus gazella (Fabricius); Onthophagus taurus (Schreber) Approved
2009 Acroptilon repens (L.) DC (Russian knapweed) Jaapiella ivannikovi Fedotova Approved
2009 Acrolepiopsis assectella (Zeller) (leek moth) Diadromus pulchellus Wesmael Approved
2009 Lilioceris lilii (Scopoli) (lily leaf beetle) Tetrastichus setifer Thomson Approved
2008 Acroptilon repens (L.) DC (Russian knapweed) Aulacidea acroptilonica V. Bel. Approved
2005 Chondrilla juncea L. (rush skeletonweed) Bradyrrhoa gilveolella (Treitschke) Approved
2005 Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood) (greenhouse whitefly); Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (tobacco whitefly); Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (western flower thrips) Amblyseius swirskii Athias-Herriot Approved
2003 Bemesia spp. (whitefly) Eretmocerus mundus Mercet Approved
2001 Listronotus oregonensis (LeConte) (carrot weevil) Microctonus hyperodae Loan Approved
2001 Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (western flower thrips) Amblyseius (Typhlodromips) montdorensis Schicha Denied
2001 Lymantria dispar (L.) Calosoma sycophanta (L.) Denied
2000 Acantholyda erythrocephala (L.) (Pine false webworm) Myxexoristops hertingi (Mesnil) Approved
2000 Pseudococcus longispinus (Targioni-Tozetti) (longtailed mealybug) Tetracnemoidea sydneyensis Approved
2000 Aphids in greenhouses, field crops and orchards Episyrphus balteatus (DeGeer) [Syrphidae] Denied
2000 Paratrioza cockerelli (Sulc) (potato/tomato psyllid) Tetrastichus triozae Burks Approved


Information and guidance on the petition process are available in:

Additional Information

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