Preference of Peponapis pruinosa (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) for Tilled Soils Regardless of Soil Management System

Amanda R. Skidmore, Clancy A. Short, Chasity Dills, Karen Goodell, Ricardo T. Bessin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Concerns about global pollinator declines have placed a growing focus on understanding the impact of agriculture practices on valuable native pollinators in these systems. Cultivation practices such as tillage disturb agroecosystems and can have negative impacts on ground-nesting pollinators. The squash bee, Peponapis pruinosa (Say), is a ground-nesting specialist pollinator of Cucurbita (Cucurbitaceae) crops (i.e., pumpkins and squash) that often nests in agricultural fields and thus may be vulnerable to these practices. We investigated the impact of tillage on nesting behavior of P. pruinosa in plasticulture and strip-tilled squash systems. We used choice experiments to test nesting substrate preference and nesting success of caged P. pruinosa in two soil tillage systems: strip tillage and plasticulture. The strip tillage system comprised two tillage zones (strip-tilled row with no-till edges), and the plasticulture system comprised two tillage zones (plastic bed and conventional tillage edge). The results of our study indicate that P. pruinosa nesting density did not significantly differ between the strip tillage and plasticulture systems. Within each system, P. pruinosa preferred excavating nests in the most disturbed soil zones (strip-tilled row and conventionally tilled edge). In the strip tillage system, the strip-tilled row had significantly more nests than the no-till edge. Results of these studies suggest that soil tillage practices can influence P. pruinosa nesting choice and production practices should be considered when developing a pollinator protection plan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)961-967
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Entomology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 5 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the many people who have helped with the field work, data processing, and preparation of this paper. Especially Dr. Michael Sitvarin, Nathan Mercer, Dr. Logan Minter, Dr. Celeste Welty, and the staff of the Ohio State University’s Waterman Agriculture Field Station. We are grateful for the helpful comments provided by Dr. Hannah Penn and Dr. Keng-Lou James Hung during the editing of this work. This work is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Specialty Crop Research Initiative Grant 416-30-18C. This is publication no. 18-08-010 of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with the approval of the Director. A.R.S. and C.A.S. contributed equally to the experimental execution, data collection and analysis, paper contents, and editing. C.D. contributed to experimental execution and data collection. K.G. contributed to the experimental design, execution, data analysis, and editing. R.T.B. contributed to the experimental design, execution, data collection, analysis, and editing.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


  • Peponapis pruinosa
  • cucurbit production
  • ground-nesting bee
  • pollinator habitat management
  • tillage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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