Native paper wasps hold potential as bio-control agents for lepidopteran pests of Brassica

Date
2017-04-11
Authors
McCall, Erin
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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
Abstract

Pesticides have become a staple in agriculture. Even with modern advancements in agriculture pest control, there are pests that still persevere within our farming systems. The application of chemicals to crops is time consuming, costly, and can be environmentally compromising. Within Brassica plants the larval pest T. ni (Trichoplusia ni) consumes large amounts of plant product on a daily basis. Our project looked to see if native paper wasps (Polistes fuscatus), are capable of predating these pest larvae, at a rate that is high enough to benefit the plant. Established colonies were placed in a hoop house with young collard greens. T.ni were then placed on the collards, with half of those plants encased to prevent wasps from predating. Data were collected on the number of larvae predated over 3 hours each day. Leaf area was also measured at the end of the experiment to assess the benefits of wasp predation on plant growth. Combined, our data will help us see how paper wasps populations could aid agricultural production. Future research could then determine if predation levels are high enough to have an economic impact.

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