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Beneficials in the vineyard
Embracing natural pest control

Green lacewing thomas hyggen.jpg
Benefits of beneficials

Benefits of attracting benficials

Having predatory insects in a vineyard offers several advantages apart from simply eating or parasitizing pest insects. Controlling pest populations naturally can help reduce dependence on pesticides (and associated environmental impact) which can then help improve overall biodiversity in the vineyard ecosystem. Reducing pesticide use over time can also lead to increased cost savings from purchasing less pesticide overall.

Healthy predatory insect populations can also build a more sustainable long-term pest management strategy. As they themselves are a part of the ecosystem, they can adapt to natural changes in pest populations and help mitigate population swings and maintain a more stable system overall.  In addition, hosting healthy populations of all insects, both predatory and pollinator, can help play a part in mitigating the drastic and conerning global declines in bee and other helpful insect populations.

Natural habitat on the farm

Natural habitat areas on the farm

Leaving large natural habitat areas undisturbed is the best practice to encourage pollinators and other beneficial insects, as it already provides both food and shelter.   Natural areas act as windbreaks and provide soil stability.  If there is a natural water source nearby, such as a pond or seepage area, the water can act as a temperature regulator, cooling the air during heat waves and reducing the severity of cold snaps. Natural areas also provide habitat for larger beneficial wildlife such as insect-eating birds and sparrow-eating hawks and falcons. (See more about Integrated Pest Management)

Creating habitat

Encouraging predatory insects

Beneficial insects simple need safe areas of habitat with native flowering plants in which to live and shelter.  Leaving large natural habitat areas undisturbed is the best practice to encourage these insects, as it already provides both food and shelter, but if there are no natural areas nearby then creating habitat areas can still be beneficial. Planting windbreaks or hedgerows in underused areas or along fence lines offers shelter for these insects, provides additional food, and also creates nesting areas.

To create refuge habitat, plant grasses, wildflowers, and other ground covers between rows, with taller shrubs and bushes in hedgerows. Despite pollinating insects not being of high importance in a vineyard, many critical predatory insects such as ladybugs and lacewings, also require some nectar as a food source. "Pollinator habitat" will also provide insect prey for those predators during times of the season when pest populations are low important. Studies have shown that  predatory insects can live twice as long when there are flowers around. The shrubs like wild rose, mock-orange or willow provide habitat structure. Many insects need dead wood for nesting; this can include fallen logs, untreated fence posts, and even old wooden sheds.

In the Okanagan, there are two nurseries that specifically specialize in native plants:

Best Management Practices for Beneficial Insects

  • Reduce pesticide use as much as possible. Low-intervention or spray-free should be the goal. Read more on Chemical Intervention and Integrated Pest Management

  • If there are natural habitat areas on the farm, take care of them but also don't tidy the 'wildness'. Natural habitats need complexity to be functional.

  • Provide full-season food.  Pollinators and beneficial insects don't just come around when fruit trees are in bloom - they live on the farm all year round.  Make sure there are always flowers blooming in and around the vineyard.

  • Give them clean water.  Ensure there is clean, unpolluted water somewhere near the orchard. Artificial water sources (troughs, pools, etc) need to have rocks or other resting spots above the water's surface so insects can land to drink without drowning.

Further Reading

The following resources are information-only. Find the Financial Assistance page here

Review of Ecologically-Based Pest Management in California Vineyards

How a California viticulturists uses biological control and cultural practices to combat pests.

Sown wildflowers between vines increase beneficial insect abundance and richness in a British vineyard

Sustainability Certification for Vineyards & Wineries of BC Guidance Update:

Environmental Farm Plan Biodiversity Guide:


Sustainable Agriculture Strategy:

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