Establishing flowering plants in and around fields to provide pollen and nectar resources for natural enemies has shown promise as a strategy to enhance biological control of crop pests. Natural enemies are selective in their flower feeding, however, and show preferences for certain plant species. In this study the relative attractiveness of 11 flowering plant species to aphidophagous hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) was evaluated at the Oregon State University Vegetable Research Farm. Six of these plant species were also evaluated at two other farm sites. Of the 12 species of hoverflies collected, Meliscaeva cinctella (Zetterstedt), Toxomerus marginatus (Say), Toxomerus occidentalis (Curran), Sphaerophoria sulfuripes (Thomson), and Scaeva pyrastri (L.) were common to all three sites. Attractiveness of flowering plants to foraging hoverflies was assessed by conducting timed observations of feeding-visit frequencies. Flowering periods varied between plant species and comparisons were made only for plant species flowering on a particular date. Relative attractiveness of plant species to hoverflies differed between dates and sites. Among early-season flowering species, coriander, Coriandrum sativum (L.), was fed from most frequently. Among late-season flowers, yarrow, Achillea millefolium (L.), fennel, Foeniculum vulgare (Miller), and Korean licorice mint, Agastache rugosa (Fischer & C. A. Meyer) were fed from most frequently. These results help in the selection of plants to enhance biological control, but final selection of plants for this purpose requires considering flower, natural enemy, and pest phenologies, and pollen and nectar quality and availability.
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