Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Brookings, South Dakota » Integrated Cropping Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #296216

Title: Protein marking-based assessment of in-field predator dispersal

item CHOATE, BETH - Allegheny College
item Lundgren, Jonathan

Submitted to: Biocontrol Science and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/8/2014
Publication Date: 8/4/2014
Citation: Choate, B.A., Lundgren, J.G. 2014. Protein marking-based assessment of in-field predator dispersal. Biocontrol Science and Technology. 24(10):1183-1187.

Interpretive Summary: Insect predators disperse at different rates and over varying distances, which makes it difficult to develop predator conservation programs based on field margins or other non-cropped areas (e.g. how near do conservation strips in cropland need to be to encourage in-field dispersion of natural enemies). We applied a protein marker (egg whites or milk) to a central patch within alfalfa fields, subsequently collected predators at varying distances from the marked areas, and ran tests (ELISA) to detect the marker proteins from the insects’ bodies. We determined that predators were more efficiently collected using sweep nets than hand-collection, and netting didn’t result in false positives. Approximately 30% of the predators recovered had self-marked with the protein. Pirate bugs, lygus bugs, damsel bugs, and spiders were the most abundant predators collected. Different predators had distinct dispersal patterns, but all dispersed on average between 60-70 m in a single day. This research will help give farmers clearer recommendations on where to place non-crop resources to encourage within-field movement of predators.

Technical Abstract: In-field predator dispersal remains poorly understood, although it is crucial for designing predator conservation programs. Protein sprays in alfalfa were used to mark predators and study their dispersal. Insects were collected by hand or sweepnets to evaluate the relative value of these two methods. Different predator groups displayed distinctly different dispersal patterns over time.