Requirements of Predators and Parasites
Many natural enemies of pests and weeds re-quire plant nutrients for growth, development, andreproduction. They may feed on pollen, nectar,seeds, sap, or plant parts, or consume the honey-dew produced by other insects. Many also may ben-eﬁt greatly from feeding upon additional, non-pestprey on plants in and around the farm.
Many natural enemies
both vertebratesand invertebrates
require specific plant habitatsfor nesting or for over-wintering, and to provide theparticular conditions they need in the summer. If critical habitat requirements are missing at keystages in the life cycle of insects, birds, or bats, theywill not stay on your farm.
Protection from pesticides and disturbance.
In-secticides may be toxic to predatory and parasiticspecies; herbicides may remove critical plant re-sources; and intensive cultivation may reduce pop-ulation densities of these beneﬁcial organisms.
Principles of Farmscaping for Natural Enemies
Determine which species are most likely to behelpful.
Find out which predators and parasites feedupon the pests that attack your crops, the time of year they are active, and the additional resources(food and shelter) that they need.
Know and map farm habitats.
Identify fieldsand margins
and the times of year
where plantresources for these beneﬁcial species are lacking.
Manage your farm to attract and retain natu-ral enemies.
Use the illustration in this brochure asa guideto protect and enhance valuable habitat andto add appropriate plants and other features.
Here are two things you can do to improve the sit-uation for natural enemies of pests and weeds:
Experiment with one tactic.
Establish an insectaryflower border or block, as illustrated in this bro-chure, in a readily accessible location. Observe thishabitat regularly to determine whether beneficialspecies are present when they would be most help-ful on your farm.
Avoid a harmful practice.
Choose an alternativepesticide that is not toxic to beneficial species, orexperiment with reducing intensive cultivations inan area of your farm. Watch to see whether preda-tors and parasites are more active in these areas.
The practices listed in this brochure will generallyreduce pests. Many pest species, however, also havespecialized predators and parasites that are highlyefﬁcient, but these may require speciﬁc practices toattract and retain them on your farm. Consult withbiological control experts such as university exten-sion workers or other growers to determine whatyou might do for these species.
What to Expect
Many predators and parasite species have limiteddispersal capacity and reproduction rates, and pop-ulations may therefore be slow to increase. Don’tbe surprised if it takes more than one growing sea-son for your habitat improvements to yield results.
Habitat for Predators and Parasis
Many invertebrates, as well as bats and birds,feed upon crop pests and weeds. Providing foodand shelter for these useful animals can helpsuppress unwelcome pest species.This brochure illustrates how farmers can at-tract and retain helpful predators and parasitesby providing some of the key resources thatthey require. Many of these practices benefitpollinators and other wildlife as well, and areeligible for support by Farm Bill programs.Inside, you will find more information anda guide to help you manage your farmland fora wide variety of the natural enemies of croppests and weeds.