We investigated whether the age of field margins that had been established for conservation of northern bobwhite populations also enhance biological pest control in adjacent cotton fields. The impact of second year margins on the cotton crop did not significantly differ from first year margins with regard to pests or biological control. Analysis of the gut contents of M. autographae, suggested that this species is food-limited in the margins, whereas a single vetch species proved to be a good food source. This study shows that non-crop structures designed for a particular ecological function may be unsuitable for other ecological services. By making small adjustments in the vegetative com posit ion, we might be able to effectively stack multiple ecological functions and thereby optimize ecological benefits.
Published as part of XIV International Entomophagous Insects Workshop: June 11–15, 2006, Newark, Delaware