Banker plants are plants that are grown together in the same zone as your primary crop. Also known as habitat plants, they assist in establishing, supporting and maintaining a population of one or more biological control agents that are released on the banker plants. Banker plants support the biological control agents (BCA’s) by providing food, such as pollen. Banker plants can also support a host pest, which does not affect the primary crop grown, like the aphid banker plant system. Here we discuss three distinct types of banker plant systems.
Aphid Banker Plants
The aphid banker plant system introduces Bird Cherry Oat Aphids (Rhopalosiphum padi), a type of cereal aphid into the growing environment on cereal plants, such as barley. Bird Cherry Oat Aphids serve as food source for the parasitic wasp Aphidius colemani.
Bird Cherry Oat Aphids only reproduce on monocotyledonous plants (like grasses). These aphids serve as a