A comparison of alternative plant mixes for conservation bio-control by native beneficial arthropods in vegetable cropping systems in Queensland Australia Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractCucurbit crops host a range of serious sap-sucking insect pests, including silverleaf whitefly (SLW) and aphids, which potentially represent considerable risk to the Australian horticulture industry. These pests are extremely polyphagous with a wide host range. Chemical control is made difficult due to resistance and pollution, and other side-effects are associated with insecticide use. Consequently, there is much interest in maximising the role of biological control in the management of these sap-sucking insect pests. This study aimed to evaluate companion cropping alongside cucurbit crops in a tropical setting as a means to increase the populations of beneficial insects and spiders so as to control the major sap-sucking insect pests. The population of beneficial and harmful insects, with a focus on SLW and aphids, and other invertebrates were sampled weekly on four different crops which could be used for habitat manipulation: Goodbug Mix (GBM; a proprietary seed mixture including self-sowing annual and perennial herbaceous flower species); lablab (Lablab purpureus L. Sweet); lucerne (Medicago sativa L.); and niger (Guizotia abyssinica (L.f.) Cass.). Lablab hosted the highest numbers of beneficial insects (larvae and adults of lacewing (Mallada signata (Schneider)), ladybird beetles (Coccinella transversalis Fabricius) and spiders) while GBM hosted the highest numbers of European bees (Apis mellifera Linnaeus) and spiders. Lucerne and niger showed little promise in hosting beneficial insects, but lucerne hosted significantly more spiders (double the numbers) than niger. Lucerne hosted sig-nificantly more of the harmful insect species of aphids (Aphis gossypii (Glover)) and Myzus persicae (Sulzer)) and heliothis (Heliothis armigera Hübner). Niger hosted significantly more vegetable weevils (Listroderes difficillis (Germar)) than the other three species. Therefore, lablab and GBM appear to be viable options to grow within cucurbits or as field boundary crops to attract and increase beneficial insects and spiders for the control of sap-sucking insect pests. Use of these bio-control strategies affords the opportunity to minimise pesticide usage and the risks associated with pollution.

publication date

  • February 2010