Combining flower strips and trap crops provides pest control without pesticides

Photo Credit: Paul Illsley

A recent study in the journal Insects shows that planting floral resources for natural enemies and in combination with a trap crop that draws pests away from the cash crop is an effective strategy to control pests. Controlling crop pests naturally and without sprays can be challenging, especially against very aggressive pests like the cabbage moth caterpillar that attacks everything in the cabbage family including kale and collard greens. Flower strips and trap crops can be helpful on their own, but when they are used together, they dramatically reduce pests and pest damage by working together. Trap crop attracts pests away from the cash crop. However, if the pests aren’t controlled, the trap crop can turn into a source of pests once it becomes too infested. Natural enemies can control pests on the cash crop, but the pests are likely to cause some damage in the meantime. This study shows that by drawing pests into the trap crop, the cash crop is left alone while the natural enemies attack the pests on the trap crop. This strategy provides significant pest control without the use of harmful pesticides, and can be used on the farm or in home gardens.