Relative Densities of Natural Enemy and Pest Insects Within California Hedgerows
Research on hedgerow design for supporting communities of natural enemies for biological control lags behind farmer innovation in California, where assemblages of perennial plant species have been used on crop field margins in the last decade. We compared natural enemy to pest ratios between field with hedgerows and fields with weedy margins by sampling beneficial insects and key pests of vegetables on sticky cards. We used biweekly vacuum samples to measure the distribution of key insect taxa among native perennial plant species with respect to the timing and intensity of bloom. Sticky cards indicated a trend that field margins with hedgerows support a higher ratio of natural enemies to pests compared with weedy borders. Hedgerow plant species hosted different relative densities of a generally overlapping insect community, and the timing and intensity of bloom only explained a small proportion of the variation in insect abundance at plant species and among hedgerows, with the exception of Orius spp. on Achillea millefolium L. and Baccharis pilularis De Candolle. Indicator Species Analysis showed an affinity of parasitic wasps, especially in the super-family Chalcidoidea, for B. pilularis whether or not it was in flower. A. millefolium was attractive to predatory and herbivorous homopterans; Heteromeles arbutifolia (Lindley) Roemer and B. pilularis to Diabrotica undecimpunctata undecimpunctata Mannerheim; and Rhamnus californica Eschsch to Hemerobiidae. Perennial hedgerows can be designed through species selection to support particular beneficial insect taxa, but plant resources beyond floral availability may be critical in providing structural refuges, alternative prey, and other attractive qualities that are often overlooked.
Author(s): Gareau, TLP; Letourneau, DK; Shennan, C
Journal: Environmental Entomology