- Editor: Tammy Majcherek
- Author: Stephanie Parreira
If you are planning to do your part for the environment this Sunday by planting in your garden, be sure to check out the article below about UC IPM's new insectary plants webpage by Stephanie Parreira - you will be glad you did!
Home is where the habitat is: This Earth Day, consider installing insectary plants
—Stephanie Parreira, UC Statewide IPM Program
Help the environment this Earth Day, which falls on Sunday April 22 this year, by installing insectary plants! These plants attract natural enemies such as lady beetles, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. Natural enemies provide biological pest control and can reduce the need for insecticides. Visit the new UC IPM Insectary Plants webpage to learn how to use these plants to your advantage.
The buzz about insectary plants
Biological control, or the use of natural enemies to reduce pests, is an important component of integrated pest management. Fields and orchards may miss out on this control if they do not offer sufficient habitat for natural enemies to thrive. Insectary plants (or insectaries) can change that—they feed and shelter these important insects and make the environment more favorable to them. For instance, sweet alyssum planted near lettuce fields encourages syrphid flies to lay their eggs on crops. More syrphid eggs means more syrphid larvae eating aphids, and perhaps a reduced need for insecticides. Similarly, planting cover crops like buckwheat within vineyards can attract predatory insects, spiders, and parasitic wasps, ultimately keeping leafhoppers and thrips under control.
Flowering insectaries also provide food for bees and other pollinators. There are both greater numbers and more kinds of native bees in fields with an insectary consisting of a row of native shrubs planted along the field edge (called a hedgerow). Native bees also stay in fields with these shrubs longer than they do in fields without them. Therefore, not only do insectaries attract natural enemies, but they can also boost crop pollination and help keep bees healthy.
Insectary plants may attract more pests to your crops, but the benefit is greater than the risk
The possibility of creating more pest problems has been a concern when it comes to installing insectaries. Current research shows that mature hedgerows, in particular, bring more benefits than risks. Hedgerows attract far more natural enemies than insect pests. And despite the fact that birds, rabbits, and mice find refuge in hedgerows, the presence of hedgerows neither increases animal pest problems in the field, nor crop contamination by animal-vectored pathogens. Hedgerow insectaries both benefit wildlife and help to control pests.
How can I install insectary plants?
Visit the Insectary Plants webpage to learn how to establish and manage insectary plants, and determine which types of insectaries may suit your needs and situation. If you need financial assistance to establish insectaries on your farm, consider applying for Conservation Action Plan funds from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
- Flower flies (Syrphidae) and other biological control agents for aphids in vegetable crops. (PDF)
- Good news for hedgerows: no effects on food safety in the field.
- Hedgerow benefits align with food production and sustainability goals.
- Habitat restoration promotes pollinator persistence and colonization in intensively managed agriculture. (PDF)
- Reducing the abundance of leafhoppers and thrips in a northern California organic vineyard through maintenance of full season floral diversity with summer cover crops.
In honor of 'National Learn About Butterflies Day' why not plant a few varieties that will attract and provide nectar for those colorful pollinators that dance among the garden amusing those of all ages. You don't need much space, in a couple of pots placed on a patio will do. A few suggestions include:
Zinnias and sunflowers, violets, cosmos, columbine, coreopsis, geranium, geum, impatiens, hollyhock, yarrow, lantana, nasturtiums, monarda, verbena, sweet alyssum, wild buckwheat, wall flower (Erysimum) and herbs such as sages, rosemary, lavender and chives. Common shrubs attractive to butterflies include: ceanothus, buddleia, lilac, Manzanita, rhododendron, and members of the rose famly.
To learn more about butterflies and other pollinators, download the free PDF 'How to Attract and Maintain Pollinators in Your Garden' go to http://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=8498
UC recently launched a video series that addresses awareness and planning during a drought and in times of abundant water.
For more information go to: http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=26261
If you are growing any crops, rural or urban, please be sure to fill out the the Census of Agriculture. This census counts farms and ranches and those who operate them. Whether small or large plots of land, your response counts if $1,000 or more of fruits, vegetables, and certain livestock were raised and sold during the 2017 Census year.
'Taking place only once every five years, looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures. For America's farmers and ranchers, the Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future, and their opportunity.' https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/About_the_Census/
The Census of Agriculture deadline is days away and the survey responses continue to flow in from California. So far, only 25.93 percent of California producers have responded. See the map below for the complete picture of return rates as of February 2, 2018.
Did you know it is easier than ever to respond online? NASS introduced an improved online questionnaire and included new questions to document changes and emerging trends in agriculture. Visit https://www.agcounts.usda.gov/cawi and be counted today. For more information, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 1-800-727-9540.
Information adapted from UC ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston and USDA Ag Census
Read more about what scientists in the south are doing to prevent negative crop damage using IPM at https://ipmsouth.com/2018/01/04/ipm-keeps-food-on-our-table-at-a-price-we-can-afford/