Conservation plantings of native wildflowers were established adjacent to highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) fields to test the hypothesis that provision of resources for natural enemies increases their abundance in adjacent crop fields without increasing the abundance of pest insects. For two growing seasons, natural enemies and herbivorous insects were sampled in fields with flowering borders and in control fields where growers maintained standard mown grass perimeters. Insects were categorized according to their trophic level and their potential pest status, and their abundance was compared between years and between treatments. Syrphid flies (Diptera: Syrphidae) were significantly more abundant in fields with conservation strips, as were plant bugs (Hemiptera: Miridae), thrips (Thysanoptera: Thripidae), and hoppers (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha). Aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae), thrips, fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae), and pirate bugs (Hemiptera: Anthocoridae) decreased significantly in abundance from 2007 to 2008. Beneficial insect abundance in crop fields increased in the latter half of the season in both years and this increase was more pronounced in fields adjacent to conservation plantings. We discuss the implications of these findings for pest management and conservation of biodiversity in farmland.
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