Predator communities associated with buckwheat companion plantings in Virginia

Monday, November 11, 2013
Exhibit Hall 4 (Austin Convention Center)
Christopher R. Philips , Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Thomas P. Kuhar , Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
D. Ames Herbert , Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech, Suffolk, VA
Conservation agriculture aims to achieve sustained or improved crop production and profitable agriculture while at the same time conserving natural resources and protecting the environment. A technique common in conservation agriculture is farmscaping. Farmscaping refers to the arrangement or configuration of insect-attracting plants that promote biological pest management by attracting and sustaining beneficial organisms. Understanding how buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) companion plantings impact natural enemy abundance, and pest suppression in adjacent crops, may provide alternative control methods thereby slowing the rate of insect resistance to pesticides and reducing pesticide exposure to the applicator and surrounding habitats. Buckwheat has been widely used as a companion planting on vegetable farms, vineyards, and orchards to supply nectar and pollen and encourage arthropod natural enemy populations. However, scientific data demonstrating the true biological control benefit of such companion plantings are scarce. The primary objective of this project was to record the predator communities associated with buckwheat companion plantings. In 2012 using a vacuum sampler 165 predators were collected from seven families with Anthocoridae (68), Syrphidae (47) and Catharidae (33) being the most abundant. Data for 2013 are currently being collected.