Encouraging Spider Population for Natural Pest Control

Final Report for FNE94-071

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 1994: $1,170.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1994
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
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Project Information


Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE94-071.

Are spiders practical bio-control agents? I compared spider and pest populations in mulched and un-mulched potatoes. There were three questions I hoped to address:
1) Does mulch create a habitat that encourages spiders (and perhaps other pest predators) to move in?

2) Do increased spider populations have any correlation with decreased pest populations or level of damage to vegetable crops?

3) Is mulching a practical alternative for market growers?

Test plots were established in fields where the crops were being grown for market. All crops were grown organically, using standards established by NOFA. We monitored pests using the same methods IPM scouts use and tracked populations of Colorado Potato Beetles and leafhoppers each week throughout the growing season. Spider populations were sampled weekly as well. At the end of the season we compared yields from mulched and unmulched plots.

Overall, there were fewer insect pests on mulched plants than unmulched plants. Mulched plots supported higher spider populations than did unmulched plots. Surprisingly, there was no discernible difference in yields between potatoes that were mulched and those that were not.


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  • Abby Seaman


Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.