The beautifully bright French marigold with its yellow, orange and mahogany blooms proves to be a bit too attractive to beneficial arthropods surrounding sweet corn fields. During the 2021 field season, researchers in the Hooks Lab and UMD Extension were busy, “Evaluating French marigold as a border insectary plant for the enhancement of beneficial arthropods in sweet corn plantings.” They found that while the marigold plants were indeed attracting beneficial arthropods such as encyrtid wasps and lady beetles, the beneficials remained near the marigold strips rather than dispersing throughout the sweet corn plots. The authors concluded that “when used as a border insectary plant, marigold may not improve biological control through predation and parasitization of economically important insect pests in sweet corn plantings”. Moreover, in the current study, marigold may have functioned as a natural enemy sink by luring natural enemies from sweet corn border rows.
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