Manipulating field margins to increase predation intensity in fields of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum)

Mansion-Vaquié, A., Ferrante, M., Cook, S.M., Pell, J.K. & Lövei, G.L. (2017) Manipulating field margins to increase predation intensity in fields of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum).

Journal of Applied Entomology, 141(8), 600-611. DOI:10.1111/jen.12385 (IF2017 1,629; Q1 Entomology)
  • Team:
  • Category:
  • Dec, 2017


The effectiveness of natural enemies to control pests can be enhanced through habitat manipulation. However, due to the differences in their ecology, generalist and specialist species may respond differently to the same manipulation. Moreover, interactions among natural enemies (i.e. cannibalism, intraguild predation, hyperparasitism) may complicate the assumption that a higher density of natural enemies would increase the level of biological control. We investigated the natural enemy guild composition and the predation rate along flower vs. grass margins at the edge of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum) fields in Denmark. Natural enemies were sampled by pitfall trapping and by suction sampling; predation intensity was measured using two different sentinel prey methods: artificial caterpillars made of plasticine, and sentinel aphid colonies. Specialist and generalist species responded differently to the two margin types: specialists (mostly parasitic wasps) were attracted by the flower margins, while generalists (ground beetles, rove beetles and spiders) were more active in grass margins. The number of artificial caterpillars attacked was significantly greater in grass margins (mean = 48.9%, SD = 24.3) than in flower margins (mean = 30.7%, SD = 17.4). We found a significant positive relationship between the number of artificial caterpillars attacked by chewing insects, and activity density for large (≥15 mm) ground beetles. Predation of sentinel aphids in wheat fields did not vary significantly in relation to margin type. Our results suggest that flowering margins may be beneficial for canopy‐active specialist natural enemies, but grassy margins are more useful for ground‐active generalist predators.