A beetle bank, in agriculture and horticulture, is a form of biological pest control. It is a strip planted with grasses (bunch grasses) and/or perennial plants, within a crop field or a garden, that fosters and provides habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and other fauna that prey on pests.
Beetle banks are typically made up from plants such as sunflowers, Vicia faba, Centaurea cyanus, coriander, borage, Muhlenbergia, Stipa, and buckwheats (Eriogonum spp.). Beetle banks are used to reduce or replace the use of insecticides, and can also serve as habitat for birds and beneficial rodents. For example, insects such as Chrysoperla carnea and the Ichneumon fly can prey on pests. The concept was developed by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust in collaboration with the University of Southampton.
History of the term
According to a March 2005 draft entry for the Oxford English Dictionary, the term first came into use in the early 1990s, with published examples including the August 22, 1992 issue of the New Scientist and an October 12, 1994 reference in The Guardian society section:
- ‘Beetle banks’, a recent initiative by the Game Conservancy Trust, would also help encourage ground-nesting birds while creating cover for aphid-eating bugs with more pay-off in savings on aphicides.
- Kevin McCullen (14 June 2010). "Connell organic farmer using 'beetle banks'". Tri-City Herald. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- Felix Wäckers, Paul van Rijn and Jan Bruin (2005). Plant-Provided Food for Carnivorous Insects - a protective mutualism and its applications. Cambridge University Press, UK, 2005. ISBN 978-0-521-81941-1.