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BENEFICIAL INSECTS

BENEFICIAL INSECTS

Artwork By Douglas Gayeton

BENEFICIAL INSECTS

Location: OSU’s Integrated Plant Protection Center in Corvallis, Oregon
Featuring: Gwendolyn Ellen

Beneficial insects are predators, parasites, and parasitoids which provide farms with a variety of ecological services, including insect, pest, weed, and disease management, and pollination and microbial breakdown contributing to soil tilth.

Many predaceous ground beetles don’t fare well with soil and pesticide disturbance. Gwendolyn Ellen helps farmers learn how to create beetle banks with the Farmscaping for Beneficials Program (FSB) at OSU. Beetle Banks provide the insects with a warm, dry winter shelter close to a ready food supply of crop pests and weed seeds.

Gwendolyn explains that beneficial insects can be encouraged through the decreased use of pesticides; providing undisturbed nesting and overwintering sites (such as beetle banks); providing blossom within the field throughout the season and habitats for food sources and refuge; and by mowing less farm edges and encouraging plant and habitat biodiversity. The disappearance of predaceous ground beetles occurs due to the use of pesticides. Their disappearance can allow for slugs, works, and invertebrate pests to take over, creating the need for even more pesticides. Oregon grass seed growers are transitioning from now disallowed field burning practices to more alternative grass seed production practices which include minimum tillage.

“Cultivate chaos on the farm instead of clean farming!”

Habitats That Promote Beneficial Insects
Sloughs, bottom lands, grassy field edges, blocks of native insectary plantings within the field and on field edges, row ends, by poles, irrigation headers and irrigation ditches, hedgerows, beetle banks, letting crop plants flower and go to seed, annual hedgerows of sunflowers

-Tropic effects- the disappearance of predacious ground beetle (due to pesticide use) can allow slugs, worms, and invertebrate pests to take over (creating the need for even more pesticides). Oregon grass seed growers are transitioning from now disallowed field burning practices to more alternative grass seed production practices which include minimum tillage. Many claim high populations of slugs now devastate their grass seed seedlings in the spring (researchers agree). The slugs’ traditional predator, predacious ground beetles, do not occur in high numbers in grass seed fields due to pesticide use.