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Environ Entomol. 2010 Jun;39(3):763-74. doi: 10.1603/EN09122.

Effects of relay-intercropping sorghum with winter wheat, alfalfa, and cotton on lady beetle (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) abundance and species composition.

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  • 1Department of Biology, National University of Lesotho, PO Roma 180, Lesotho.


Creating conditions that enhance the abundance of resident populations of natural enemies in agroecosystems is considered critical to the efficiency of biological control of insect pests. We conducted a study to determine the potential of relay-intercropping for enhancing the abundance of aphidophagous lady beetles in sorghum. A relay-intercropping system consisting of alfalfa, winter wheat, and cotton as intercrops and sorghum as a main crop was compared with sorghum monoculture plots at two study sites in OK from 2003 to 2006. Lady beetles and aphids were sampled throughout the season using sticky traps and field counts on individual sorghum plants. Results from sticky traps and field counts show that differences in abundance and species composition of lady beetles between intercropped and monoculture sorghum were not statistically different during each year of study. Also, the lady beetle-greenbug ratios in relay-intercropped and monoculture plots were not significantly different. Lack of significant effects of relay-intercropping in our study may have been attributable to the confounding effects of spatial and temporal scale and the low number of aphids and other alternative prey in the intercrops compared with high incidence of corn leaf aphids in sorghum early in the season.

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