Another way to add diversity is to include perennial plants such as wildflowers, fruit trees and grasses in and around field edges. Flowering perennials stay in place and bloom each year, providing undisturbed habitat rich in nectar, pollen and alternative prey, all of which are attractive to beneficial insects such as lady beetles, ground beetles, lacewings, minute pirate bugs and parasitoids. Perennials boast other benefits, such as extensive rooting systems that trap excess nutrients and pesticides in the soil while promoting soil health, soil biology and water infiltration.

Wildflowers Apple Orchard
Wildflower habitat on a Georgia apple farm designed to attract beneficials and native pollinators. Photo by Candace Pollock-Moore, Southern SARE

Visit the Native Plants and Ecosystem Services website developed by University of Michigan researchers, with support from SARE, for information about native plants and their attractiveness to beneficial insects. Wherever possible, consider practicing agroforestry and silvopasture by combining trees, shrubs and perennial grasses with crops and livestock to improve habitat continuity for beneficials throughout the farm. The Center for Agroforestry’s (University of Missouri) Agroforestry Training Manual and Handbook for Agroforestry Planning and Design describe agroforestry practices and identify particular species that can be profitably integrated on your land. The book Agroforestry Landscapes for Pacific Islands covers agroforestry practices for producers in tropical regions.