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Norman C. Leppla & Patrick De Clercq

A brief history of the working group, along with some of its roots and traditions, was included in the preface to the Proceedings of the VII Workshop on Quality Control of Mass-Reared Arthropods (WGQC). It suggested that quality control of mass-reared arthropods began to take shape as a coherent subject following presentation of formative papers by Ernst Boller and Manfred Mackauer at an International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC) symposium in Rome, Italy. These papers, published in the same volume of Entomophaga in 1972, were widely read and discussed relative to their applications in sterile insect technique and augmentative biological control.

During most of the 1970's this emerging field advanced as Ernst Boller and Derrell Chambers organized and conducted a series of international conferences and training courses, and published many scientific papers and the book, "Quality Control, An Idea Book for Fruit Fly Workers." In 1980 the official working group was sponsored by IOBC and approximately biannual workshops were established. IOBC has supported every one of these workshops both financially and through periodic participation of the President and Secretary of the Global Body. The workshops and their leadership were as follows:

Year Location Chair

Gainesville, Florida

E. F. Boller and D. L. Chambers

Wadenswil Switzerland
E. F. Boller and D. L. Chambers
Guatemala City, Guatemala
C. O. Calkins
Vancouver, Canada
C. O. Calkins
Wageningen, The Netherlands
F. Bigler and J. C. van Lenteren
Horsholm, Denmark
F. Bigler
Rimini, Italy
M. Benuzzi and N. C. Leppla
Santa Barbara, California
R. F. Luck and N. C. Leppla
Cali, Colombia
N. C. Leppla and T. R. Ashley
2003 Montpellier, France
P. De Clercq, S. Grenier and N.C. Leppla
Montreal, Canada
S. Grenier and C. Glenister
2010 Vienna, Austria
T. Coudron, P. De Clercq and A. G. Parker
Bangalore, India
P. De Clercq, T. Coudron, T. M. Manjunath, C. Ballal

The workshop held in Gainesville, Florida in 1982 focused on pests of man and animals, i.e., biting flies, such as screwworm, Cochliomyia hominivorax (Coquerel), fruit flies and Lepidoptera. A post-meeting excursion was conducted to Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico (screwworm) and Metapa, Mexico (medfly). Tours of operational pest management programs based on mass-produced arthropods were important to maintain a practical orientation. Encouraged by Manfred Mackauer, natural enemies were featured for the first time at the workshop held at Wadenswil, Switzerland in 1984. At Guatemala City, Guatemala in 1986, the meeting was organized by subject rather than taxonomic group: insect colonization and strain development, colony maintenance, quality control of production and products (laboratory bioassays), irradiation, shipment and distribution, field assessment and management of quality control systems. Colonization and strain development, critical subjects that receive minimal attention, were also emphasized. Tom Ashley (1987) developed a computerized quality control system at Guatemala following the meeting. The Vancouver, Canada meeting in 1988 was divided into two sections, "Quality Control of Pestiferous Insects" and "Quality Control of Entomophagous Arthropods." Along with the topics discussed at Guatemala, behavior of entomophages was added by Joop van Lenteren and colonization by Manfred Mackauer. IOBC was represented by the Secretary of the Global Body, Jean Paul Aeschlimann. This and the previous meeting at Guatemala were very important in developing the concepts of total quality control. The V workshop held at Wageningen, The Netherlands in 1991 was co-chaired by Franz Bigler and Joop van Lenteren. It concentrated completely on entomophagous arthropods and resulted in very important proceedings that described specific quality control tests for natural enemies. This workshop produced the special subject meeting at Horsholm, Denmark in 1992 that reviewed and improved guidelines for product control of natural enemies, drafted product control methods for additional organisms, discussed quality control costs and resources, and determined quality control information for European Community labels. In Rimini, Italy, the VII workshop for the first time brought together specialists in augmentative biological control with experts in arthropod colonization and mass production. Regulation of the fledgling international biological control industry was also debated. The VIII workshop was held in 1995 at Santa Barbara, California. One of the four sessions at this workshop addressed quality control procedures based on Total Quality Management and International Standards (ISO-9000). Considerable attention was also given to risk assessment and regulation of commercially produced biocontrol agents. The IX workshop was conducted in 1998 at the International Center of Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia. The meeting was held in conjunction with the IOBC Working Group on Trichogramma and Other Egg Parasitoids. During the meeting, self-regulation capacities for the international biological control industry were advanced as well as some general principles and practices in large-scale rearing as they relate to quality control. At the conclusion of the Cali meeting, the IOBC, WGQC was combined with a newly formed group based on rearing of entomophagous insects on artificial diets. This amalgamation was named the Arthropod Mass Rearing and Quality Control Working Group (AMRQC) and was under the leadership of Simon Grenier (France), Patrick De Clercq (Belgium) and Norman Leppla (USA). They organized the X workshop of the group in September 2003 at Agropolis in Montpellier, France. Global IOBC was represented there by its president, Les Ehler. During the workshop, emphasis shifted back to quality control and rearing of entomophagous, haematophagous, as well as phytophagous arthropods. The XI workshop was held in 2007 at Montreal, Canada, under the theme of “Maintaining Worldwide Connections for Quality Assurance in Arthropod and Nematode Rearing”. It was organized as a joint meeting of AMRQC, the Association of Natural Bio-control Producers (ANBP), the International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association (IBMA), and the ASTM Subcommittee E35.30 on Natural Multi-Cellular Biological Control Organisms. The workshop was hosted by the Biocontrol Network of Canada. The main focus was on quality assurance for the production of arthropod and nematode biocontrol agents and sterile insects. The XII workshop in October 2010 was again a joint meeting of AMRQC, ANBP, IBMA, the ASTM Subcommittee E35.30 and ran in cooperation with the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture. The meeting was hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria. At this workshop, a proposal was accepted to change of name of the working group to: "Mass Rearing and Quality Assurance (MRQA)" Working Group, as the scope of the group has now broadened beyond arthropods. The XIII workshop in November 2013 was the very first to be held in Asia.It was co-organized by IOBC-MRQA, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the Society for Biocontrol Advancement of India (SBA) and the International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association (IBMA) and hosted by the National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects (NBAII – ICAR) in Bangalore, India. Particular attention was given to the technical and socio-economic challenges faced by emerging economies in Asia and elsewhere related to the mass production, regulation and release of invertebrate biological control agents.

The accomplishments of the working group extend far beyond its initial goal of institutionalizing quality control in arthropod mass rearing programs. Today, unlike prior to about 1980, quality assurance is an accepted concept throughout the world for the production of beneficial organisms. The working group has published quality control tests and standards, and quality control guidelines, for more than 20 natural enemies commercialized for biological control. Additionally, the proceedings of our workshops and organism-specific publications form a useful body of literature on the subject.

In the future, it is absolutely essential that the working group remain broadly based in quality assurance and flexible to address opportunities in the use of mass-reared arthropods and nematodes. For example, the pioneers of this field never imagined the excessive amount of time that would be spent on regulatory issues, nor did they anticipate requirements for international shipment of natural enemies and the advent of genetically modified organisms. The working group, now MRQA, has roots and traditions but it remains unconstrained by dogma and is zealous in its search for improvements in the rearing and quality assurance of mass-reared arthropods, nematodes and perhaps other invertebrate and vertebrate animals that are relevant to the remit of IOBC.


  • Ashley, T. R. 1987. An Analytical System for Quality Control Data. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, Manual.
  • Bigler, F. (ed). 1988. Contributions to the 4th Workshop of the Global Working Group, "Quality Control of Mass Reared Arthropods." Vancouver, Canada.
  • Bigler, F. (ed). 1991. Fifth Workshop of the IOBC Global Working Group, "Quality Control of Mass Reared Arthropods." Wageningen, Netherlands.
  • Bigler, F. (ed). 1992. Report, Sixth Workshop of the IOBC Global Working Group, "Quality Control of Mass-Reared Arthropods." Horsholm, Denmark.
  • Boller, E. 1972. Behavioral aspects of mass-rearing of insects. Entomophaga 17:9-25.
  • Boller, E., and D. L. Chambers (eds). 1977. Quality control: an idea book for fruit fly workers. IOBC Bulletin SROP-WPRS. 1977/5.
  • Boller, E. F. and N. C. Leppla. 2006. Global working group on arthropod mass rearing and quality control (1968-present), pp. 129-134. In: E. F. Boller, J. C. van Lenteren, and V. Delucchi (eds), International Organization for Biological Control of Noxious Animals and Plants (IOBC), History of the first 50 years (1956-2006). Ponsen & Looijen, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
  • Luck, R. F. 1995. Notes on the Santa Barbara Meeting, October 1995. IOBC Newsletter 62.
  • Mackauer, M. 1972. Genetic aspects of insect production. Entomophaga 17:27-48.
  • Nicoli, G., M. Benuzzi and N. C. Leppla. 1993. Proceedings, Seventh Workshop of the IOBC Global working Group, "Quality Control of Mass Reared Arthropods." Rimini, Italy.