FIRST VEGETABLE GARDEN
THE OZ VICTORY GARDEN
GARDENING TO SAVE MONEY
INCREASE YOUR BOTANY SAVVY
TILLING VS CULTIVATING
THE PERILS OF PEAT
THE DIRT ON SOIL
TINES, TINES, TINES
WHY AND HOW TO TILL
RENT OR BUY
HOW TO RENT & USE A BACKHOE
FALL LANDSCAPING TIPS
ECO FRIENDLY TIPS
USING GOOD PESTS TO FIGHT BAD PESTS
BUYING A LAWN MOWER?
MY NEW TILLER
Natural Selection: Using Good Insects to Fight Bad Pests
When it comes to gardening and horticulture, there is no shortage of pesticides, sprays and chemicals to control plant-killing critters. While many sprays and substances are effective in fending off bugs, termites and pestilence, how do you address the bugs that have developed resistance to already-strong chemicals?
It turns out there are many ways to protect your garden, with the help of Mother Nature.
Garden Insect Allies — Can You Dig It?
Not all bugs are bad, necessarily. In fact, some insects are beneficial for gardeners and horticulturists. The “honor roll” for beneficial bug buddies is a surprisingly lengthy one, and it includes ground and rove beetles, Tachinid flies, garden spiders, ladybugs, dragonflies, Lacewings, honeybees, praying mantis’ and the impressively-named assassin bug.
So how do you attract these highly-desired insect tenants to your garden? Plant a lot of nectar or pollen-bearing plants, like marigolds or parsley. These provide food for certain benign bugs, such as bees, Lacewings, and Tachinid flies, while ground-covering plants like petunias and zinnias offer shelter and cover for other kinds of bad-bug predators, like spiders, mantis’, and beetles.
There are many ways to attract beneficial insects and further beautify your garden and grounds at the same time, writes master organic gardener Emily Saddler. She suggests planting a variety of herbs, plants, and flowers that can also be used by humans as spices and ingredients. Those include basil, dill, fennel, Echinacea, garlic, onions, parsley, asters, marigolds and basil. Some of these plants also have scents and odors that confuse certain pests, which make the plants even more valuable in your garden. Those providing ground cover, shelter, and even food (nectar) for these good insects include chamomile, nasturtiums, zinnias, petunias, cosmos, calendula, and tansy. Also, having a pond nearby encourages and attracts dragonflies, which are colorful, fun to watch and deadly to aphids and other pests.
Bad Bugs and Their Enemies
There are many insects that can eat up your vegetables or destroy them before the plants even have a chance to grow. Organic Gardening magazine put together a list of the worst garden pests and how to neutralize them:
- Aphids — These tiny plant sap-suckers kill leaves, create mold growth from excreted honeydew, and spread viruses. Their mortal enemies are dragonflies, aphid midges, ladybugs, assassin bugs, and lacewings.
- Cabbage maggots — These gross little worms tunnel into plant roots and either kill them with root damage or facilitate disease through the damaged roots. Ground and rove beetles feast on root maggots.
- Caterpillars — These segmented, multi-legged creatures devour leaves, sometimes burrow directly into plants and fruit, and defile produce with droppings. Native parasites and predators such as lacewings, parasitic wasps, yellow jackets, Tachinid flies, and assassin bugs can help eliminate these problematic crawlers.
- Cutworms — These little buggers chew through stems on the ground and can completely devour small plants early in the growing season. Beetles, parasitic wasps, garden spiders and Tachinid flies feast on these pests.
- Potato beetles — These voracious eaters can completely defoliate potato plants in a matter of days. Enemies includes spiders, parasitic wasps, praying mantises, ground and rove beetles, true bugs, and assassin bugs.
- Leaf Miners — As their name suggests, hungry leaf miners love munching on your garden leaves. Attract parasitic wasps by planting pollen-loving nectar plants.
- Mexican bean beetles — Another type of hungry beetle, these South-of-the-Border bugs chew on leaves from underneath, completely defoliating and killing plants. Their primary predator is the spined soldier bug, which can be attracted through lures.
- Flea beetles — The adults chew holes through the leaves, eventually killing them, while the larvae feast on plant roots. Enemies are the assassin bugs, parasitic wasps, true bugs and garden spiders.
- Tarnished plant bugs — Both adults and nymphs suck out plant juices and cause damage, distortion, wilting and stunting to the fruit and leaves. Predators of these pests include the praying mantis, assassin bug, and parasitic wasp.
- Japanese beetles — These flying leaf plant nemeses can feast on both leaves and roots, and completely strip a plant of all its leaves very quickly. Employ assassin bugs, parasitic wasps, and other beetles to your arsenal.
- Scales — These bad bugs suck up plant sap at all stages of development and weaken the plants, causing them to become yellow and drop leaves. Damage isn’t always fatal, but usually is. Lacewings are the primary mortal enemy and predator of scales.
- Snails — They might be cute in children’s books, but these sticky critters eat anything and everything in their path, rapidly multiplying to bring their family members in on the feasting. Although the best measures for elimination aren’t really enemies, you can try posting an empty tuna can or sugar and yeast mixture to bait them.
There you have it, the top 12 most heinous gardens pests, along with their natural enemies. Another option for primarily ground bugs like worms and grubs, are nematodes. 3 These are microscopic worms live in the soil and kill grubs.
One final recommendation is to choose straw mulch as a base to attract garden spiders. These are “good bugs” to have around if you want to keep the not-so-nice insects from having a heyday. No pun intended.
Now, it’s time to go make some new insect friends and put them to use; to have a thriving garden just in time for autumn harvest.
If you have any comments, I’d really like to hear from you.
The Garden Of Oz
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