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Evaluation of the Aphidius colemani-Rhopalosiphum padi banker plant system in greenhouse biological control

Payton Miller, Tracey Lee

Banker plants are mobile habitats that provide alternate hosts or food for commercially available natural enemies. As a biological control strategy, banker plants offer a novel non-chemical approach to managing commonly encountered pests in the greenhouse. Most banker plants that target aphids consist of a graminaceous plant, a nonpest cereal grain aphid, and a parasitoid that attacks both the non-pest and pest aphids occurring on crop plants. Use of banker plants may provide more effective, long-term pest control than pesticide applications, but both can be combined. Banker plant systems have been used commercially in areas of the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. One of my goals was to ascertain if banker plants are a viable aphid pest management technique in the southwestern United States. The following study is an overview of the history of biological control in enclosed environments, the Aphidius colemani-Rhopalosiphum padi banker plant system in Oklahoma, pesticides compatible with A. colemani natural enemies, the costs and benefits of the Aphidius colemani-Rhopalosiphum padi system to manage aphid pests, and alternative species of grasses for potential use as banker plants.