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Approaches to conserving natural enemy populations in greenhouse crops: current methods and future prospects

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Gerben J. Messelink
  • Jude Bennison
  • Oscar Alomar
  • Barbara L. Ingegno
  • Luciana Tavella
  • Les Shipp
  • Eric Palevsky
  • Felix Leopold Wackers
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>08/2014
Issue number4
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)377-393
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date8/05/14
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Biological pest control in greenhouse crops is usually based on periodical releases of mass-produced natural enemies, and this method has been successfully applied for decades. However, in some cases there are shortcomings in pest control efficacy, which often can be attributed to the poor establishment of natural enemies. Their establishment and population numbers can be enhanced by providing additional resources, such as alternative food, prey, hosts, oviposition sites or shelters. Furthermore, natural enemy efficacy can be enhanced by using volatiles, adapting the greenhouse climate, avoiding pesticide side-effects and minimizing disrupting food web complexities. The special case of high value crops in a protected greenhouse environment offers tremendous opportunities to design and manage the system in ways that increase crop resilience to pest infestations. While we have outlined opportunities and tools to develop such systems, this review also identifies knowledge gaps, where additional research is needed to optimize these tools.