Prospects for habitat management to suppress vegetable pests in Australia

Syed Z M Rizvi, Olivia L Reynolds, Ahsanul Haque, Michael J Furlong, Jianhua Mo, Maria C Melo, Salma Akter, Vivian E Sandoval-Gomez, Anne C Johnson, Geoff M Gurr

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


Habitat management is an ecologically based approach to suppress pest densities, utilising properties of non-crop vegetation to improve the impact of natural enemies or to directly affect pest behaviour. Research in this approach has escalated dramatically this century, extending to uptake in some crops, but adoption in Australia has been lower than overseas. Here, we address the need of the Australian vegetable sector to reduce reliance on insecticides by assessing the scope for habitat management in brassica (Brassicaceae), lettuce (Lactuca sativa) (Asteraceae), capsicum (Capsicum annuum) (Solanaceae), carrot (Daucus carota) (Apiaceae), French bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) (Fabaceae) and sweetcorn (Zea mays) (Poaceae) crops. Each crop is of major economic importance, and together, they represent contrasting botanical families and production systems that are associated with different arthropod complexes. We review studies of habitat management that are based on provision of shelter, nectar, alternative prey or pollen for natural enemies (top-down effects) or changing pest behaviour (bottom-up effects) through intercropping or trap crops. The likely utility of these approaches under Australian conditions is assessed, and recommendations are made to promote adoption and for adaptive research. Nectar- and pollen-providing plants, such as alyssum (Lobularia maritima) (Brassicaceae), offer strong potential to promote natural enemies in multiple crops whilst trap crops, especially yellow rocket (Barbarea vulgaris) (Brassicaceae), have more targeted utility against diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae), the most serious pest of brassicas. Opportunities for intercrops and banker plant species are also identified. Our recommendations serve as a platform for researchers and for farmer-led studies to help realise the full potential of habitat management approaches in Australian vegetable production systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-28
Number of pages26
JournalAustral Entomology
Issue number1
Early online date13 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


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