The Effects of Farmscaping Plants on the Abundance, Diversity, and Longevity of Arthropods in Organic Tomato Fields in Alabama
Type of Degreethesis
Entomology and Plant Pathology
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Organic farming is the practice of cultivating crops without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Farmscaping is habitat manipulation system of planting plants near the crop to attract beneficial insects by providing food or shelter resources. This study evaluated the effects of planting sunflower, sweet alyssum, buckwheat, and licorice mint around organic tomato fields on the abundance and diversity of insects in the fields. We tested the effects of sweet alyssum, buckwheat, and licorice mint on the nutrient levels and longevity of a parasitoid wasp, Microplitis croceipes (Cresson) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). We also showed that some of the farmscaping plants increase the lifespan and body nutrient levels of M. croceipes. The field studies showed trends indicating that the farmscaping does affect the populations of various insects. We found higher populations of most insects on the farmscaping plants but found no significant decrease of the number of pests on the adjacent tomatoes.