Wildflower plantings in agroecosystems can support arthropod predators, and may have the potential to increase conservation biological control of pest species in nearby crops. Colorado potato beetle (CPB) is a significant defoliator of potato that is resistant to many forms of management. Promoting natural enemies of CPB by establishing perennial wildflower plantings in field margins may provide a measure of control for this pest. We examined the impacts of floral plantings on the abundance of known CPB predators, predation of CPB egg masses, and CPB populations in a commercial agroecosystem. Floral plantings increased the abundance of CPB predators, but did not significantly increase the rate of predation of sentinel CPB egg masses within field margins. Within nearby potato fields, predator abundance and predation rates on CPB eggs were unaffected by the presence of flowers. Colorado potato beetle abundance in potato fields was also not impacted by floral plantings. However, floral margins may provide improved overwintering opportunities for CPB, and further investigation is needed. Perennial wildflower plantings show potential for attracting predators that prey on CPB, but these benefits do not extend into nearby potato crops.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank RD Offutt Farms for allowing the use of their fields and for their collaboration on this project. We acknowledge the support and funding from the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program [grant number 2015-38640-23781], the Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship at the University of Minnesota, the Dayton Bell Museum Fund, and the MnDRIVE Global Food Ventures program. Additionally, we are grateful to George Heimpel, Dan Cariveau, Elizabeth Borer, Lindsey Christianson, and Christopher Philips, and the undergraduate technicians Noah Linck, Joe Nelson, Gus Fedje-Johnson, Lily Briggs, Erik Lucas, Lexie Ogdahl, Caroline Hofmeister, Eli Kleinschmidt, Bailey Brandel, and Samantha Meyers for their field and laboratory assistance.
- Colorado potato beetle
- Conservation biological control
- Floral resources
- Leptinotarsa decemlineata