At the heart of IPM is the conservation of natural enemies. A key tactic in conserving natural enemies is making well-informed and rational pest management decisions supported by good sampling, valid control thresholds and knowledge of beneficial pests present in your crop. Well-informed and rational IPM decisions provide the best opportunity to reduce the overall need to spray, and hence help conserve beneficial species such as predatory insects, spiders, bats and birds.

Natural enemies suppress populations of a wide range of insect pests, helping reduce the potential for pest populations to reach outbreak levels in crops. Native vegetation is an important alternate habitat for natural enemies; the consistency and stability of perennial vegetation provides resources that are not found in cropping areas, especially when in fallow.

Here are some tips when thinking about native vegetation to maximise its value for natural pest control 

  • Think beyond the crop: Think about the health of your native vegetation and how they are placed within your landscape.
  • Encourage beneficials with diverse vegetation: Having diverse vegetation provides a suite of resources for beneficials to use. Different insects will have different habitat preferences and food requirements.
  • Conserve your beneficials: Make informed and rational pest management decisions using sampling, control thresholds and knowledge of the pest and beneficials present.
  • Think about the birds and bats: Birds and bats also forage for insects within and over the canopy of the crop.

Visit Pests and Beneficials in Australian Cotton Landscapes for more information on the common benficials found in Australian cotton crops.

This blog is part of a year long program from CottonInfo, with the themes aligned with the 2020 CottonInfo cotton calendar and the UN's International Year of Plant Health. For more information, view the calendar, or contact the CottonInfo Technical Lead for Biosecurity, Sharna Holman