The effects of intercropping of Brassicaceae with coriander (Coriandrum sativum), dill (Anethum graveolens), African marigold (Tagetes erecta) and calendula (Calendula officinalis) on the abundance, species richness and diversity of predators and parasitoids of Lipaphis erysimi have been assessed. The numbers of aphids, parasitized aphids and natural enemies were determined during two consecutive phases. The first period comprised the vegetative phase of companion plants up to the onset of flowering and the development of kale up to the start of harvesting, while the second period encompassed the late flowering of companion plants up to senescence and the complete harvesting phase of kale. The establishment of L. erysimi and its natural enemies during the first period was enhanced by the climatic conditions and the additional nutritional resources offered by companion plants. Over the complete 13 week period, the abundance of natural enemies in kale intercropped with African marigold, calendula, coriander and dill increased by factors of 3.1, 2.1, 2.0 and 1.6, respectively, compared with the kale monoculture, while species richness increased by 1.8-fold in kale/African marigold intercrop and by a factor of 2.7 in the other treatments. The predominant predators were Syrphidae larvae and Hippodamia convergens whereas the predominant parasitoid was Diaeretiella rapae. The diversity of natural enemies was similar in all crops owing to the high proportion of syrphids in relation to the other groups of insects. The improved resources offered by companion plants can be exploited in the conservative biological control of insect pests.
Key words: Conservation biological control, natural enemies, insect seasonality, Hemiptera, Aphididae, Asteraceae, Apiaceae, Lipaphis erysimi, abundance, richness, Syrphidae, ladybird, kale
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