We investigated the response of predatory spiders, carabids, staphylinids and heteropteran bugs to the age of wildflower areas at twenty 1- to 4-year-old wildflower sites and in wheat fields. Density, biomass and species richness of spiders, carabids and bugs increased with the age of wildflower sites, and were higher at older wildflower sites than in the wheat fields. In contrast, staphylinid density decreased significantly with the age of wildflower sites. Canonical correspondence analysis explained 42.4% and 46.7% of the total variance of spider and carabid assemblages, respectively. Spider and carabid assemblages were best explained by vegetation cover. Mean individual weights of spiders, carabids and staphylinids increased significantly with the age of wildflower sites. The positive response of these three groups of beneficials is of practical relevance because many farmers currently remove wildflower areas after two to three years of establishment. Thus, older stages of succession increase the numbers of most beneficials studied.
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Vol. 46 • No. 6