The development of biological control methods for exotic invasive pest species has become more challenging during the last decade. Compared to indigenous natural enemies, species from the pest area of origin are often more efficient due to their long coevolutionary history with the pest. The import of these well-adapted exotic species, however, has become restricted under the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing, reducing the number of available biocontrol candidates. Finding new agents and ways to improve important traits for control agents ("biocontrol traits") is therefore of crucial importance. Here, we demonstrate the potential of a surprisingly under-rated method for improvement of biocontrol: the exploitation of intraspecific variation in biocontrol traits, for example, by selective breeding. We propose a four-step approach to investigate the potential of this method: investigation of the amount of (a) inter- and (b) intraspecific variation for biocontrol traits, (c) determination of the environmental and genetic factors shaping this variation, and (d) exploitation of this variation in breeding programs. We illustrate this approach with a case study on parasitoids of Drosophila suzukii, a highly invasive pest species in Europe and North America. We review all known parasitoids of D. suzukii and find large variation among and within species in their ability to kill this fly. We then consider which genetic and environmental factors shape the interaction between D. suzukii and its parasitoids to explain this variation. Insight into the causes of variation informs us on how and to what extent candidate agents can be improved. Moreover, it aids in predicting the effectiveness of the agent upon release and provides insight into the selective forces that are limiting the adaptation of indigenous species to the new pest. We use this knowledge to give future research directions for the development of selective breeding methods for biocontrol agents.