Pollinator communities in a blackberry cropping system under intense pest management

H.K. Levenson, H.J. Burrack
Caneberry production in the United States exceeds $ 250 million dollars annually, with market demand expected to continue to increase. Cultivation of caneberries is threatened from pathogens and pests, and one of the most economically damaging pests is an invasive fruit fly, spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii). In attempts to manage pests, pesticide use has increased exponentially, with many growers spraying pesticides at least weekly. A concern from increased pesticide use is the loss of beneficial insects which can aid in controlling secondary pests and, of current concern, pollination. Unfortunately, little is known about the effects of pest management on the pollinator communities of caneberries. Using the blackberry cropping system in North Carolina, we surveyed the insect flower-visiting community and collected fruit quality measurements to explore how pest management may affect pollinator communities. We documented blackberry flower visitors from 5 insect orders and at least 20 different bee species. Pollinator abundance and diversity differed between field edges and field interiors and was important for some fruit measurements. Additionally, we found multiple insect species nesting within commercial blackberry fields inside old canes, with about 69% of collected canes occupied by insect nests. We urge pest management programs in blackberries be updated to better protect these important pollinator communities.
Levenson, H.K. and Burrack, H.J. (2024). Pollinator communities in a blackberry cropping system under intense pest management. Acta Hortic. 1388, 197-208
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2024.1388.30
pollination, bees, Rubus, caneberry, pest management, integrated crop pollination

Acta Horticulturae