Natural predation is an important component of integrated pest management that is often overlooked because it is difficult to quantify and perceived to be unreliable. To begin incorporating natural predation into sweet corn, Zea mays L., pest management, a predator survey was conducted and then three sampling methods were compared for their ability to accurately monitor the most abundant predators. A predator survey on sweet corn foliage in New York between 1999 and 2001 identified 13 species. Orius insidiosus (Say), Coleomegilla maculata (De Geer), and Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) were the most numerous predators in all years. To determine the best method for sampling adult and immature stages of these predators, comparisons were made among nondestructive field counts, destructive counts, and yellow sticky cards. Field counts were correlated with destructive counts for all populations, but field counts of small insects were biased. Sticky cards underrepresented immature populations. Yellow sticky cards were more attractive to C. maculata adults than H. axyridis adults, especially before pollen shed, making coccinellid population estimates based on sticky cards unreliable. Field counts were the most precise method for monitoring adult and immature stages of the three major predators. Future research on predicting predation of pests in sweet corn should be based on field counts of predators because these counts are accurate, have no associated supply costs, and can be made quickly.
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Vol. 97 • No. 1