The effect of weeds on the numbers of hoverfly (Diptera: Syrphidae) adults and the distribution and composition of their eggs in winter wheat.
The abundance and species composition of syrphid adults in herbicide-treated and untreated headlands was recorded in a replicated within-field experiment conducted over a two-year period. The highest numbers of the most abundant syrphid species, Episyrphus balteatus, were recorded in the untreated headland strips. Analysis of the behaviour of the adult flies showed that they were retained in the untreated strips because they were foraging on the flowering non-crop plants.
The distribution of syrphid eggs between herbicide treated and untreated headland replicates was examined. A significant positive relationship between the numbers of eggs per aphid and weed density was detected during June in the second year of the study. This is in part attributed to the tendency of Melanostoma females to oviposit on non-crop plants. .
The implications of the implementation of a modified herbicide regime in the headlands of cereal fields for the biological control of cereal aphids by syrphid larvae is discussed.