- The goal of our study is to survey the arthropod predator species (beetles, spiders, etc.) that eat the insects that are pests on plants.
- From our study we will identify the type of habitats that provide the highest number of these beneficial predators.
- We will provide the results of our study to all participating farms.
- We work with farmers to insure that our surveys do not interfere with farming operations.
Below is a brief description of our methods:
- Dig a small hole (about 6 inches deep x 4 inches across) in between plants using a golf hole cutter.
- Place a plastic cup filled with a dilute dish soap solution in the hole. This is the trap that will catch the insects. In total 20 traps are placed across the farm to catch insects in as many different vegetable types as possible.
- Cover the trap with a plastic plate to prevent extraneous things from falling in from above.
- Mark the trap area with flagging (so it is easy to find again).
- Traps are left in place for 48 hours and retrieved.
Predator Strength Assays
- Place 10 dead (frozen) house fly pupae on the ground, cover with wire mesh and a plastic plate. These fly pupae represent prey that predator species would eat. In total, 20 assays are placed across the farms to test predator strength in as many different vegetable types as possible.
- After 48 hours, return and count the number of fly pupae eaten and retrieve materials. In areas with higher numbers of predators, more fly pupae should be eaten within 48 hours.