A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) research study is looking at the benefits of wildflowers in citrus groves.
A research field study conducted by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) scientists at Lake Alfred and Monticello is studying the benefits of growing wildflowers in citrus groves, according to a UF/IFAS Tip of the Week. Researchers are looking to see if wildflowers will attract insect predators and pollinators to benefit citrus groves. The study is ongoing, but the research has yielded some results. See the details below.
Studying Wildflowers in Citrus Groves
The study started in 2020 with researchers planting native buttonbush, coral honeysuckle, and blanket flower at the groves’ windbreaks; they also included control groves where no flowers were planted. They then counted pollinators and insect predators that would prey on pest insects on a monthly basis. Results on wildflowers in citrus groves so far include:
- “More predators were found in the groves with wildflowers, but no evidence of increased predation.”
- “Groves with wildflowers also have more diverse and abundant pollinators near the flower plantings as well as within the groves themselves.”
- “Commercial honeybees were most often found on Spanish needle, a flowering weed common to groves, native bees were highly attracted to the blanket flowers.”
According to the Tip of the Week article, the field study “suggests that flowering treatments are associated with increases in the diversity and abundance of beneficial arthropods,” and that the study will continue as “Researchers are investigating whether these effects increase over time as the perennial flowers have more time to establish and flower in higher densities.”
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