Insect Visitors of Specialty Cut Flowers in High Tunnels

J Econ Entomol. 2022 Jun 8;115(3):909-913. doi: 10.1093/jee/toac051.

Abstract

Various strategies incorporate floral resources into agricultural landscapes to support beneficial insects. Specialty cut flower production offers a rarely explored approach to offer floral resources while yielding a marketable product for growers. We characterized insect visitation to six species of specialty cut flowers. Due to Wyoming's growing conditions, the flowers were grown in high tunnels, thus offering insight into insect abundance in this unique semi-controlled environment. The flower species tested were Calendula officinalis, Celosia argentea, Daucus carota, Helichrysum bracteatum, Matthiola incana, and a Zinnia elegans-Zinnia hybrida mixture. At least four species were in bloom from early June through late September. The flowers attracted diverse pollinator groups including Diptera, Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, and Lepidoptera. Bees most often visited Ca. officinalis, H. bracteatum, and Celosia spicata whereas flies most often visited D. carota. Bombus were the most oft-collected bees from the flowers and were found on all six cut flower species. Wasp abundance varied little across the cut flowers, but wasp community composition was distinct. The highest diversity of wasp families was collected from the Zinnia mixture (seven families) in contrast to less diverse collections from Ce. spicata (two families). The most abundant wasp families collected were Crabronidae and Sphecidae. Our experiment documented that ornamental cut flower species attract pollinator insects into high tunnel environments. All cut flower species tested were visited by multiple types of beneficial insects. Planting a mixture of specialty cut flowers can support insect diversity while also diversifying on-farm agricultural products through sale of cut flower stems.

Keywords: cut flower; floral resource; high tunnel; natural enemy; pollinator.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees
  • Diptera*
  • Flowers
  • Hymenoptera*
  • Insecta
  • Pollination