Survivorship of Aphid Natural Enemies on Different Flower Species
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Loss of natural habitat in agricultural landscapes has decreased the abundance of natural enemies able to predate or parasitize pests harmful to crops. Field margins represent one way to increase the number of beneficial insects, and this study aimed to determine which flowering plants might be useful to enhance the value of these margins for beneficial insects that attack crop pests. The blueberry aphid is a very important pest in Michigan blueberry fields, as it transmits a virus that can destroy individual bushes and even entire fields. In this experiment, the survivorship of three aphid natural enemies (convergent lady beetles, insidiosus flower bugs and aphidius wasps) were separately measured on several species of flowers taken from blueberry field margins (wild bergamot, Queen Anne's lace, great blue lobelia, red clover, yellow giant hyssop and Culver's root), as well as on water and in the absence of both water and food sources for 12 days or until all insects died. Dimensions of insect head size and corolla size were measured and compared for each plant-insect pairing and were related to insect survivorship. In this study, wild bergamot was determined to benefit the survivorship of convergent lady beetles the most, all flower species increased the lifespan of insidiosus flower bugs, and Queen Anne's lace and great blue lobelia increased the survivorship of aphidius wasps. Insect survivorship was not related to the paired plant-insect measurements.