Success with Supplementation of Beneficial Insects Depends on Surroundings

A study by Cornell University explored farmers’ success with release of natural enemies on cabbage crops in New York. Researchers found that releasing pest predators led to fewer pests, less plant damage, and increased crop biomass on farms that were surrounded by more forest and natural areas and less agricultural land. However, on farms predominantly surrounded by other farms, there were more pests and plant damage and reduced crop biomass, in spite of added predators. In simpler agricultural landscapes, insect predators may prey on other predators, and there can be more competition for prey. The researchers say more study is needed before they can make specific recommendations to growers.