Beneficial insects move from flowering plants to nearby crops
Rachael Freeman Long, UC Cooperative Extension Farm
Andrew Corbett, Entomology
Celia Lamb, Agronomy
Chris Reberg-Horton, Agronomy
Jeff Chandler, Corn Flower Farms
Michael Stimmann, Extension Environmental Toxicologist
California Agriculture 52(5):23-26. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v052n05p23.
Marking studies demonstrated that lady beetles, lacewings, syrphid flies and parasitic wasps fed on nectar or pollen provided by borders of flowering plants around farms; many insects moved 250 feet into adjacent field crops. Studies using the elemental marker rubidium also showed that syrphid flies, parasitic wasps and lacewings fed on flowering cover crops in orchards and that some moved 6 feet high in the tree canopy and 100 feet away from the treated area. The use of nectar or pollen by beneficial insects helps them survive and reproduce. Therefore, planting flowering plants and perennial grasses around farms may lead to better biological control of pests in nearby crops.
R. Freeman Long is UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, Yolo and Solano counties; A. Corbett is Postdoctoral Researcher, Entomology, UC Davis; C. Lamb is Field Assistant, Agronomy, UC Davis; C. Reberg-Horton is Graduate Student, Agronomy, UC Davis; J. Chandler is Consultant, Corn Flower Farms, ElK Grove; M. Stimmann is Extension Environmental Toxicologist, UC Davis;
This research was supported by the California Tomato Research Institute and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.