Evaluation of natural enemies in blueberry agroecosystems:
Whitehouse, Tyler Seth
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Natural enemies are valuable components of agroecosystems as they provide biological control services to help regulate pest populations. Promoting biocontrol services can improve sustainability by decreasing pesticide usage, which is a major challenge for the blueberry industry in the southeastern United States. We conducted this study across the most productive blueberry producing counties in Georgia, USA during the growing seasons of 2016 and 2017. Blueberry orchard sites were selected to compare multiple factors including management practice, local vegetation, and landscape diversity. Natural enemies were found to be more abundant in the surrounding landscapes and vegetation between crop rows supported higher natural enemy populations. Our results suggest implementing ecologically based management practices in order to sustain diverse natural enemy communities and potentially limit pest populations, including spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii).