Middleton, E.G. and I. V. MacRae. 2021. Biological Control 152: 104463, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2020.104463

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.

Krey, K. L., C. K. Blubaugh, J. T. Van Leuven, and W. E. Snyder. Environmental Entomology, nvz123, https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/nvz123

Soil chemistry and microbial diversity can impact the vigor and nutritive qualities of plants, as well as plants’ ability to deploy anti-herbivore defenses. Soil qualities often vary dramatically on organic versus conventional farms, reflecting the many differences in soil management practices between these farming systems. We examined soil-mediated effects on herbivore performance by growing potato plants (Solanum tuberosum L.) in soils collected from organic or conventional commercial farm fields, and then exposing these plants to herbivory by green peach aphids (Myzus persicae Sulzer, Hemiptera: Aphididae) and/or Colorado potato beetles (Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say, Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Responses of the two potato pests varied dramatically. Survivorship of Colorado potato beetles was almost 3× higher on plants grown in organic than in conventional soils, but was unaffected by the presence of aphids. In contrast, aphid colony growth was twice as rapid when aphids were reared alone rather than with Colorado potato beetles, but was unaffected by soil type. We saw no obvious differences in soil nutrients when comparing organic and conventional soils. However, we saw a higher diversity of bacteria in organic soils, and potato plants grown in this soil had a lower carbon concentration in foliar tissue. In summary, the herbivore species differed in their susceptibility to soil- versus competitor-mediated effects, and these differences may be driven by microbe-mediated changes in host plant quality. Our results suggest that soil-mediated effects on pest growth can depend on herbivore species and community composition, and that soil management strategies that promote plant health may also increase host quality for pests.

Tajmiri P, Fathi SAA, Golizadeh A, Nouri-Ganbalani G. Int J Pest Manage. 2017;63(4):273-279.

Intercropping systems are practiced to reducing pest density, enhancing predator's diversity and stabling crop yield. We evaluated the effect of strip-intercropping potato and annual alfalfa on populations of Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say), predator's biodiversity and potato yield over two seasons (2014 and 2015). Our results revealed that the densities of egg masses, eggs, larvae and adults of Colorado potato beetle (CPB) were significantly lower in intercrops than in monoculture. The main CPB predators recorded on potato plants (ladybirds and the green lacewing) showed a significant increase in the density at each of the three intercrops than in monoculture. The percentage of dry tubers weight loss was 40.9%-42.6% in monoculture, 16.3%-18.7% in 6P: 2A and <10% in 2P: 2A and 4P: 2A in two studied years. Our results suggest that strip-intercropping potato with annual alfalfa, particularly in 2P: 2A and 4P: 2A patterns may be an effective way in integrated management of CPB for reducing pest density, enhancing the presence of predators in potato fields and improving potato yield.