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Selection of floral resources to optimise conservation agriculturally-functional insect groups

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date08/2012
JournalJournal of Insect Conservation
Journal number4
Volume16
Number of pages6
Pages635-640
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Non-crop vegetation in agricultural landscapes can provide a means of conserving insects in farmed landscapes and optimising on-farm ecosystem services as a result. Inclusion of floral resources may be particularly useful in conserving many beneficial insects, where groups including pollinators and pest natural enemies often rely on nectar and pollen during (at least part of) their life-cycle. As not all flowers are equally suited to all beneficial insects, selection of appropriate flowering plants is key to ensuring that conservation targets are met and benefits to ecosystems services realised as a result. This short paper describes an experiment conducted to assess the ‘total temporal attractiveness’ of a range of British wildflowers to selected functional insect groups. The results obtained demonstrate that flowering period alone is a poor indicator of plant suitability to insects, where no relationship existed between this and attraction to insects overall. Data also suggest that, based on attraction over a season, certain flowering plants are more likely to be of general insect conservation value and/or benefit to functional insect groups than others. Attraction to pest insects was also considered, with relatively high catches of thrips and pollen beetles observed in flowering stands of some plants.