Besides providing food and shelter to natural enemies of crop pests, plants used in conservation biological control interventions potentially provide additional ecosystem services including providing botanical insecticides. Here we concurrently tested the strength of these two services from six non-crop plants in managing cabbage pests in Ghana over three successive field seasons. Crop margin plantings of Ageratum conyzoides, Tridax procumbens, Crotalaria juncea, Cymbopogon citratus, Lantana camara and Talinum triangulare were compared with a bare earth control in a three-way split plot design such that the crop in each plot was sprayed with either a 10% (w/v) aqueous extract from the border plant species, a negative control (water) and a positive control (emamectin benzoate ‘Attack’ insecticide). Pests were significantly less numerous in all unsprayed treatments with non-crop plant margins and in corresponding sprayed treatments (with botanical or synthetic insecticide positive control) while treatments with bare earth margin or sprayed with water (negative controls) had the highest pest densities. Numbers of predators were significantly depressed by synthetic insecticide but higher in other treatments whether unsprayed or sprayed with botanical insecticide. We conclude that some plant species have utility in both conservation biological control and as source of botanical insecticides that are relatively benign to natural enemies. In this crop system, however, the additional cost associated with using botanical insecticides was not justified by greater levels of pest suppression than achieved from border plants alone.
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