Biocontrol by Native Generalist Predators: A Strategy for Reducing Pesticide Use in Vegetable Production

EPA Grant Number: R826099
Title: Biocontrol by Native Generalist Predators: A Strategy for Reducing Pesticide Use in Vegetable Production
Investigators: Wise, David H.
Institution: University of Kentucky
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: October 1, 1997 through September 30, 2000
Project Amount: $147,133
RFA: Exploratory Research - Environmental Biology (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Biology/Life Sciences , Ecosystems


The overall objective of the project is to reduce reliance on synthetic pesticides in vegetable production by providing quantitative information on the extent to which native generalist predators control insect pests and influence vegetable yield. Wolf spiders (lycosids) and ground beetles (carabids) are major elements of the generalist predator guild. The extent to which conservation and augmentation of these indigenous predators will depress numbers of vegetable pests depends upon the rate at which wolf spiders and carabid beetles colonize vegetable crops; the rate at which they feed on insect pests; and the extent to which they interfere with overall biological control by feeding on each other and on other predators. The research will test the following specific hypotheses: (1) Predation by lycosids and carabids reduces densities of cucumber beetles and squash bugs in gardens of cucumbers and squash. (2) This reduction in numbers of insect pests increases yields of marketable cucumbers and squash. (3) Predation by carabids and spiders on each other, and on other predators, does not prevent the guild of generalist predators from exerting economically significant control of vegetable insect pests.


The proposed research will test these hypotheses through a field experiment in which natural rates of colonization of gardens by spiders and beetles will be manipulated in order to establish replicated plots with different combinations, and overall densities, of lycosids and carabids; and laboratory feeding trials and microcosm experiments to document the extent to which the common species of wolf spiders and carabids prey upon each other, upon other predators, and upon pests of squash and cucumber.

Expected Results:

The project will contribute to the goal of reducing environmental pollution by strengthening the scientific base for strategies of pest control that do not rely on insecticides. In testing the above hypotheses, the research will provide quantitative information on the potential economic impact of predation by generalist predators on vegetable pests. Because chemical pesticides are widely used in vegetable production, increased reliance on indigenous natural enemies to control pests will reduce environmental pollution by strengthening biological control as a component of integrated pest management in vegetable production.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 5 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 4 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

terrestrial, agriculture, insecticides, sustainability, ecology., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, exploratory research environmental biology, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Biochemistry, Ecology and Ecosystems, Agronomy, Ecological Indicators, pesticides, biocontrol, pest control, wolf spiders, conservation, native generalist predators, insecticides, vegetable production, agrochemcial, agriculture ecosystems

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998
  • 1999 Progress Report
  • Final