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A Survey of Aphid and Natural Enemies Diversity on Weedy Plants Adjacent to Agricultural Crops


Weedy plants can provide resources for beneficial insects, especially predators and parasitoids, in the form of shelter, plant-based foods (pollen and nectar), or alternative prey species. Therefore, weedy field margins may improve the diversity of beneficial organisms, such as species of Coccinellidae, Chrysopidae, Syrphidae and parasitoids (Hymenoptera). Thus, the success of conservation biological control tactics may depend on an understanding of the ecological interactions between weedy plants and natural enemies. The objective of the present research is to survey populations of entomophagous insects and aphids on weedy plants to quantify species diversity and determine the influence of meteorological factors on populations of the dominant species. To this end, sampling will be conducted bi-weekly for two years. Healthy aphids and those with symptoms of parasitism will be sampled for determination of the parasitism incidence. Eggs, larvae, pupae and adults of the natural enemies and aphids will be sampled by means of visual searches of the above-ground parts of weedy plants located close to annual and perennial crops. Immature stages will be reared to adults in the laboratory by provisioning the larvae with eggs of Anagasta kuehniella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) and/or Schizaphis graminum. All natural enemies, aphids and weedy plants will be identified to species level. The diversity and relative abundance of natural enemies and aphids, and their association with weedy plants and specific weather conditions, will be determined. A technical handbook will be prepared detailing the identification of coccinellid species, their aphid prey, and weed host plants, including detailed descriptions and photographs of the natural enemies species. (AU)

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