Effect of flower traits and hosts on the abundance of parasitoids in perennial multiple species wildflower strips sown within oilseed rape (Brassica napus) crops

  • Séverin Hatt
  • Roel Uyttenbroeck
  • Thomas Lopes
  • Ju Lian Chen
  • Julien Piqueray
  • Arnaud Monty
  • Frédéric Francis
Original Paper


Reducing the use of insecticides is an important issue for agriculture today. Sowing wildflower strips along field margins or within crops represents a promising tool to support natural enemy populations in agricultural landscapes and, thus, enhance conservation biological control. However, it is important to sow appropriate flower species that attract natural enemies efficiently. The presence of prey and hosts may also guide natural enemies to wildflower strips, potentially preventing them from migrating into adjacent crops. Here, we assessed how seven flower traits, along with the abundance of pollen beetles (Meligethes spp., Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) and true weevils (Ceutorhynchus spp., Coleoptera: Curculionidae), affect the density of parasitoids of these two coleopterans in wildflower strips sown in an oilseed rape field in Gembloux (Belgium). Only flower traits, not host (i.e. pollen beetles and true weevils) abundance, significantly affected the density of parasitoids. Flower colour, ultraviolet reflectance and nectar availability were the main drivers affecting parasitoids. These results demonstrate how parasitoids of oilseed rape pests react to flower cues under field conditions. Similar analyses on the pests and natural enemies of other crops are expected to help to develop perennial flower mixtures able to enhance biological control throughout a rotation system.


Conservation biological control Hymenopteran wasp Flower colour Ultraviolet reflectance Nectar availability Redundancy analysis 



The authors thank the technical support provided by the Experimental Farm of Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech (University of Liège), Marc Dufrêne for its precious help regarding the statistical analyses, the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS) for providing a PhD fellowship to Thomas Lopes and the TRY initiative on plant traits ( for providing the data on flower traits. Séverin Hatt, Roel Uyttenbroeck, and more generally this research, were funded by the Cellule d’Appui à la Recherche et à l’Enseignement (CARE) AgricultureIsLife (University of Liège).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11829_2017_9567_MOESM1_ESM.tif (99 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 99 kb). Figure S1. Total number of a) Meligethes spp. and b) their parasitoids trapped at peak (14 and 21 May), as well as of c) Ceutorhynchus spp. and d) their parasitoids at peak (11 June) in each plot
11829_2017_9567_MOESM2_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 18 kb)
11829_2017_9567_MOESM3_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 18 kb)
11829_2017_9567_MOESM4_ESM.docx (22 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (DOCX 21 kb)
11829_2017_9567_MOESM5_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Supplementary material 5 (DOCX 16 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Séverin Hatt
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Roel Uyttenbroeck
    • 1
    • 4
  • Thomas Lopes
    • 2
  • Ju Lian Chen
    • 3
  • Julien Piqueray
    • 5
  • Arnaud Monty
    • 4
  • Frédéric Francis
    • 2
  1. 1.TERRA – AgricultureIsLife, Gembloux Agro-Bio TechUniversity of LiègeGemblouxBelgium
  2. 2.Functional and Evolutionary Entomology, Department of Agronomy, Biology and Chemistry, Gembloux Agro-Bio TechUniversity of LiègeGemblouxBelgium
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory for Biology of Plant Diseases and Insect PestsInstitute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Biodiversity and Landscapes, Department of Biosystems Engineering, Gembloux Agro-Bio TechUniversity of LiègeGemblouxBelgium
  5. 5.Natagriwal AsblGemblouxBelgium

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