Marcel Holyoak, ESP Department Chair, co-author of a Nature journal

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Marcel Holyoak, ESP Department Chair and Professor, and other UC Davis affiliates served as co-authors of a Nature journal focusing on research indicating that farms with more variety of crops attract fewer insect pests.

Left to its own defenses, a farm field growing a variety of plants tends to attract fewer insect pests than a field growing just one type of crop. While scientists and farmers have noted that difference for years, the reasons behind it have been poorly understood.

A study led by the University of California, Davis, and published Oct. 12 in the journal Nature explains that much of it may have to do with the nutritional needs of insects. Returning plant diversity to farmland could be a key step toward sustainable pest control.

“Insects have a perfect nutrient level that they really like,” said lead author William Wetzel, a doctoral student in Population Biology at UC Davis at the time of the study and currently an assistant professor at Michigan State University. “When it’s too high or too low, they do poorly.”


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Diversity as Natural Pesticide