Study Highlights Important Role Field Margins Play in Insect Conservation and Pest Management

June 16, 2021 | Uncultivated field margins contain almost twice as many beneficial insects as cropped areas around farm fields, according to research published in the Journal of Insect Science. The study finds that these predators and parasitoids overwinter in diverse vegetation and can provide farmers with an important jump start on spring pest problems. “A benefit of understanding overwintering is that those arthropods that emerge in the spring may be more inclined to feed on pests when pest populations are low,” said Scott Clem, PhD, coauthor of the study. “And so, they may be more likely to nip pest populations in the bud before the pest problem becomes a big deal.” In total, researchers collected 4,226 insects they considered beneficial, accounting for 95 species of parasitoids and pest predators. Arthropods collected along field borders contain two times the diversity and abundance compared to the middle of crop fields. Dr. Clem continued, “[T]hese field edges are important for maintaining natural enemies of pest species. [Clem, C Scott and Harmon-Threatt, Alexandra. Field Borders Provide Winter Refuge for Beneficial Predators and Parasitoids: A Case Study on Organic Farms. Journal of Insect Science. 21. May 2021.]