Principal Investigator(s): David G. James, Lorraine Seymour, Gerry Lauby, and Katie Buckley
Organization: Department of Entomology, Washington State University, Prosser, WA 99350, USA;
Emails: [email protected] (L.S.); [email protected] (G.L.); [email protected] (K.B.)
Correspondence: [email protected]; Tel.: +1-509-786-9280
Academic Editors: Andrew G. S. Cuthbertson and Eric W. Riddick
Received: 14 April 2016; Accepted: 17 June 2016; Published: 29 June 2016
Native plant and beneficial insect associations are relatively unstudied yet are important in native habitat restoration programs for improving and sustaining conservation biological control of arthropod pests in agricultural crops. Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) are currently the focus of restoration programs in the USA aimed at reversing a decline in populations of the milkweed-dependent monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus); however, little is known of the benefits of these plants to other beneficial insects. Beneficial insects (predators, parasitoids, pollinators) attracted to two milkweed species (Asclepias speciosa, Asclepias fascicularis) in central Washington State, WA, USA were identified and
counted on transparent sticky traps attached to blooms over five seasons. Combining all categories of beneficial insects, means of 128 and 126 insects per trap were recorded for A. speciosa and A. fascicularis, respectively. Predatory and parasitic flies dominated trap catches for A. speciosa while parasitic wasps were the most commonly trapped beneficial insects on A. fascicularis. Bees were trapped commonly on both species, especially A. speciosa with native bees trapped in significantly greater numbers than honey bees. Beneficial insect attraction to A. speciosa and A. fascicularis was substantial. Therefore, these plants are ideal candidates for habitat restoration, intended to enhance conservation biological control, and for pollinator conservation. In central Washington, milkweed restoration programs
for enhancement of D. plexippus populations should also provide benefits for pest suppression and pollinator conservation.
Keywords: Milkweed; Asclepias; beneficial insects; conservation biological control; pollinators
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