The survival of Mamestra configurata Wlk. was determined from autumn and spring samples in 1973/74, 1980/81, and 1981/82 taken from unfilled and tilled portions of 12 fields of canola (Brassica campestris L. and B. napus L.). Survival from the pre-pupal stage in the autumn to post-diapause pupae in the spring varied from 2.9 to 56.5% in unfilled soil and from 0 to 25.4% in tilled soil. In untilled soil, the variations among fields in total mortality of M. configurata were related to parasitism by Banchus flavescens and to overwintering mortality. In tilled soil, overwintering mortality accounted for most of the variability in total mortality among fields. The percentage of mortality from injury to pupae, and their disappearance following tillage, greatly increased but this type of mortality did not account for much of the variability in total mortality. The disappearance of pupae following tillage was attributed to predation. In both untilled and tilled soils, the amount of overwintering mortality was related to the depth of accumulated snow, and mortality was lower in untilled soil because the stubble trapped more snow. The survival of M. configurata was not related to soil type, the type of tillage equipment, or the frequency of tillage. The number of adults emerging from untilled and tilled soil in one field were 2.58 and 0.27/m2 for M. configurata, 5.22 and 2.85/m2 for the parasite B. flavescens, and 4.46 and 3.60/m2 for the parasite Athrycia cinerea, indicating that the survival of the parasites was less affected by tillage than that of their host.
Tillage may reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks of M. configurata not only by increasing mortality but also by differentially affecting the survival of its main parasites.