Date of this Version
In the Great Plains of the USA from Wyoming to Texas, dryland winter wheat either is regularly grown continuously or is followed by a year of fallow in semi-arid locales (Royer and Krenzer, 2000). It has been well documented that these continuous monocultures can, over time, lead to increased levels of all types of pests (i.e. insects, diseases and weeds) (Andow, 1983, 1991; Vandermeer, 1989; Cook and Veseth, 1990; Elliott et al., 1998a; Way, 1998; Ahern and Brewer, 2002; Boyles et al., 2004; Brewer and Elliott, 2004; Men et al., 2004). Relative to insect pests, the ephemeral nature of insect host resources in these mono culture systems is assumed to curtail the efficiency of natural enemies, leading to increased pest pressure and reduced yields (Booij and Noorlander, 1992; Tscharntke et al., 2005; Clough et al., 2007).
From an ecological standpoint, the absence of habitats that support natural enemies in these monoculture agricultural systems are considered a primary reason why populations of aphids such as the greenbug (GB, Schizaphis graminum) and the Russian wheat aphid (RWA, Diuraphis noxia) increase above economic injury levels (EILs) (Elliott et al., 1998b, 2002a; French and Elliott, 1990a; Brewer et al., 2001; French et al., 2001a; Giles et al., 2003; Brewer and Elliott, 2004). Economic losses associated with both GB and RWA average US$150 million annually across the Great Plains of the USA (Webster, 1995; Morrison and Pears, 1998).