Lygus Trap Crops in Strawberries

Aria Wilcox Fruits & Vegetables

Trap Crops
Strawberry growers and pest control advisors heard how one of the bigger berry companies is using trap crops to prevent insect damage.

Driscoll’s Research Scientist Diego Nieto presented at UC ANR’s Santa Maria Strawberry Field Day about trials looking at trap crops for pest management. Nieto said they are using alfalfa to attract and keep lygus bug populations away from strawberries.

“As the hillsides dry down and spring turns to summer, lygus bugs immigrate into strawberry-growing areas,” Nieto said. “The idea is if you can provide them with a feeding opportunity that is preferred, then that will prevent them from colonizing a strawberry field.”

Driscoll’s Diego Nieto shares trap crop trial results at the Santa Maria Strawberry Field Day.

Nieto added that not only would the bugs stop at the alfalfa, but they would stay in the trap crop. “There is good retention of lygus bug adults and nymphs in, or immediately adjacent to, alfalfa trap crops relative to adjacent strawberries,” he said.

So why does this natural technique work? It may be as simple as a preference. “Flowering alfalfa is a preferred feeding and reproductive site for lygus bugs,” Nieto said. “The bugs will certainly use strawberries if they have to, but it’s not a preferred option.”