Harpenden’s Rothamsted Research at Chelsea Flower Show

PUBLISHED: 12:39 19 May 2014

Rothamsted Research in Harpenden has an exhibit at this year's Chelsea Flower Show. Photo courtesy Rothamsted Research

Rothamsted Research in Harpenden has an exhibit at this year's Chelsea Flower Show. Photo courtesy Rothamsted Research

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Can a multitude of different coloured petals help combat insect pests in the garden?

This year’s Chelsea Flower Show will feature scientific research delving into that very question, courtesy of Rothamsted Research.

The theme of the exhibit is the role of flowers in reducing insect pests on crops and in gardens, to help reduce people’s reliance on pesticides and promote biodiversity.

Scientists’ research shows how altering petal colour, for example along field margins, can help regulate pest populations by providing resources for their natural enemies.

Inspired by research led by Dr Sam Cook and Dr Jason Baverstock, the exhibit includes examples of oilseed rape with different petal colours, flowering field margins displayed in large planters as well as live insects.

Altering petal colour can help decrease pest numbers in crops, and allowing flowering plants to grow in and around the edge of crop fields provides food and habitats for insect pests’ natural enemies.

Using such techniques helps to reduce the amount of synthetic chemical insecticides applied to crops, which will reduce pollution and benefit other insects inadvertently killed by sprays.

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