Michigan native plants to attract beneficial natural enemies in agriculture

Dan Gibson
Michigan State University
Dan is an MS student in entomology at Michigan State University interested in the intersection of agriculture and ecological restoration. His work seeks to create habitat for beneficial insect conservation in agricultural contexts. Beneficial insects, which include pollinators and natural enemies (predators and parasitoids) of insect pests, can provide services to agriculture, but they often require non-crop habitat to persist in significant populations on the landscape. His research seeks to identify native plant species and traits that are attractive to beneficial insects, particularly natural enemies of crop pests. Prior to attending MSU, he earned his undergraduate degree in biology and history from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. While at Luther, he discovered his passion for stewardship of the land while conducting research on oak savannah restoration, invasion of European Buckthorn, and spending many hours battling invasives like buckthorn, garlic mustard, and wild parsnip.
Other presenters/researchers: 
Rufus Isaacs, Michigan State University; Doug Landis, Michigan State University; Logan Rowe, Michigan State University

We are increasingly aware of the severe consequences of habitat loss for many animals and plants, and yet we must also continue to provide nourishment for a large global population. These two realities often place conservationists and growers in conflict with each other. We can integrate the interests of each by understanding and promoting the use of restored native plant habitats to support beneficial insect populations that will provide pest control and pollination services to farmers. Native wildflowers may provide multiple benefits to natural enemies of agricultural pests, such as nectar and pollen supply, alternative hosts, and undisturbed nesting and overwintering sites. This study surveyed the attractiveness to beneficial insects of 54 native and 2 non-native perennial plants for potential use in habitat restoration for agricultural pest control and pollination.

Poster Division: 
Student