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  • 1 Szent István University Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Plant Protection H-2103 Gödöllô Páter K. u. 1 Hungary
  • 2 HAS Plant Protection Institute H-1525 Budapest P.O. Box 102 Hungary
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We investigated alfalfa and stinging nettle from the point of view of their potential to supply natural enemies of pests for protecting greenhouse cultures. We carried out a three year long study based on sweepnetting. The most frequent predatory insect was Orius niger (Wolff) in alfalfa and nettle. This species among others has an important potential in the biological control of thrips. Among ladybugs, the most important species in alfalfa and nettle were Propylea quatuordecimpunctata (Linnaeus), Coccinella septempunctata Linnaeus and Hippodamia variegata (Goeze), which consume significant amounts of aphids. The most frequent spider family in alfalfa and nettle was Thomisidae and Philodromidae. The dynamics of their prey composition suggests that these taxa present a significant suppressive force on pests. The predator thrips Aeolothrips intermedius Bagnall that feeds on phytophagous thrips, mites and other soft-bodied arthropods was also significant in the arthropod assemblage of alfalfa. Our three-year investigation showed that the abundance and the species richness of the natural enemies of greenhouse crops are suitably high in both alfalfa and nettle stands. The number of generalist predators, natural enemies of pests, the most versatile tools of pest management reached its peak between mid-May to late June in nettle whereas due to mowing, the highest values for alfalfa were recorded from June to mid-August.

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