Banker plants and landscape composition influence colonization precocity by mirid predators

Conservation biological control involves manipulation of the environment to enhance the effectiveness of natural enemies in controlling crop pests. This study combines historical data, sticky trap sampling of tomato greenhouses and beat sampling of adjacent vegetation to identify which greenhouse characteristics, habitat management practices and landscape features favor an early colonization of tomato greenhouses by the key mirid predator Macrolophus pygmaeus and its establishment in NE Spain.

Results show that landscape composition and the use of Calendula officinalis banker plants inside the greenhouse are key factors. In general, greater amounts of herbaceous semi-natural cover at the landscape scale promoted M. pygmaeus colonization, while the use of C. officinalis banker plants encouraged M. pygmaeus colonisation independently of the landscape context.

The research team identified host plants adjacent to tomato greenhouses that sustain M. pygmaeus populations; however, they did not have a major effect on M. pygmaeus colonization compared to larger landscape and banker plant effects. Early colonization of greenhouses by this predator species also translated into lower accumulated incidence of pests at the end of the sampling period. This study demonstrates the importance of active habitat management practices in promoting the early arrival of M. pygmaeus in greenhouses with delayed spontaneous colonization.

Read the complete research at

Ardanuy, Agnès & Figueras, Martí & Matas, Montserrat & Arnó, Judit & Agusti, Nuria & Alomar, Oscar & Albajes, Ramon & Gabarra, Rosa. (2022). Banker plants and landscape composition influence colonisation precocity of tomato greenhouses by mirid predators. Journal of Pest Science. 95. 1-13. 10.1007/s10340-021-01387-y.

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