Non-crop habitats provide important resources for natural enemies. Many natural enemies hibernate in non-crop habitats, from which they may colonise arable fields in the spring. Spring colonisation ensures annual repopulation of the crop with natural enemies, allowing them to keep pace with the development of pest populations. The availability of non-crop habitats can, therefore, be crucial to successful conservation biological control. We quantified the density of overwintering natural enemies near organic Brussels sprout crops in five different non-crop habitats (short grassy field margin, herbaceous field margin, herbaceous field margin under a tree line, ditch and forest). Soil and litter samples of non-crop habitats were taken at two sites. One site was located in an open agricultural landscape, the other in a landscape dominated by mixed forest. Insects belonging to Staphylinidae, Araneae, Carabidae, Coccinellidae and Dermaptera were the most abundant. Mean densities of predatory arthropods were higher in the open agricultural landscape (290 predators m¿2) than in the forested landscape (137 predators m¿2). Herbaceous habitat types supported the highest densities of overwintering predators (up to 400 predators m¿2), whereas densities in the forest were lowest (10 predators m¿2). These results indicate that herbaceous non-crop habitats are important refugia for predators and may play a vital role in conservation biological control.
- agricultural landscapes