Impact of strip-insectary intercropping with flowers on conservation biological control of the Colorado potato beetle

J. M. Patt, G. C. Hamilton, J. H. Lashomb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Predators of Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata (CPB)) are an important component of CPB suppression by biological control in New Jersey (USA) eggplant fields. Here we report the results of a preliminary study on the effects of strip-insectary intercropping with flowers on predator abundance and CPB suppression in experimental eggplant fields. Strip-insectary intercropping with flowers is known to increase beneficial insect survivorship, fecundity and retention and crop pest suppression in agroecosystems. However, little is known about the compatibility of predator foraging ability with floral architecture, i.e., the spatial relationship of the nectary with other floral parts. This a critical factor in the selection of 'proper' floral host plants, i.e., those having pollen and nectar that is accessible to predators. Laboratory evaluations and field observations of the foraging performance of Coleomegilla maculata and Chrysoperla carnea on flowers with disparate floral architectures indicated that dill (Anethum graveolens) and coriander (Coriandrum sativa) had floral architectures that were complementary to the head morphology and foraging behavior of these representative CPB predators. To measure the effect of strip-insectary intercropping with 'proper' flowers on CPB suppression, the fate of 120 eggmasses and resultant larvae placed on individual sentinel eggplant plants was followed during two 9-day periods in 100 m x 40 m eggplant fields intercropped with two rows of either dill or coriander and in a flowerless control field. In addition, coccinellid species richness and abundance was censused weekly in each test field from early July to mid-August. Throughout this study, the numbers of coccinellids observed during each census were significantly higher in the fields interplanted with dill and coriander than in the flowerless control field. Although there were no differences among treatments in the number of hatched CPB eggmasses, significantly more CPB eggmasses were consumed in the dill-intercropped fields than in the control field. Survivorship of CPB larvae at the end of each survey was highest in the control field and lowest in the dill field. These results suggest that strip-intercropping with 'proper' flowers can greatly enhance CPB predator conservation and augmentation in vegetable cropping systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-181
Number of pages7
JournalAdvances in Horticultural Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Horticulture


  • Anethum graveolens
  • Anthophily
  • Chrysoperla carnea
  • Coccinella septempunctata
  • Coleomegilla maculata
  • Conservation biological control
  • Coriander
  • Coriandrum sativa
  • Dill
  • Floral architecture
  • Hippodamia variegata
  • Insect predators
  • Leptinotarsa decemlineata
  • Strip-insectary intercropping


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