Monday, May 27, 2013

Beneficial Insects

This began as an update to Thrips :(, but then I thought it might go better as a continuation of Wait! Don't Grab That Spray!.  In the end, I decided to make it its own entry.

It has been a beautiful spring with plenty of rain and the plants are thriving.  One thing plant pests love is new growth, and this year they have it.  I have been finding aphids everywhere, and though I was hoping with all the rain and the virtual flood we had the thrips would have disappeared, they are back, though as yet, damage is minimal.  I have also discovered that they are the reason why my Clematis have done so poorly the past couple of years.

I sprayed some plants with Neem oil, but on most plants it is pointless.  Where do you begin?  Or end? Most everything seems useless with thrips anyway.  My thoughts turned to beneficial insects, particularly for the thrips.  A quick search showed that minute pirate bugs, big eyed bugs, predatory mites and even some nematodes eat thrips.  They cost a pretty penny though, but since there are no assurances that you will get what you are paying for, or that it will be successful if you do, I decided I will try to attract some to my garden.  I have their food source, so all I need are plants that attract them.  Yarrow and shasta daisies are a couple that I already have and are attractive to several of them.  Fennel and Cosmos are a couple of others, so I bought seed and scattered it around the garden.  As I researched beneficial insects, I saw that there are many more that eat thrips, they just are not necessarily ones that are sold.  The best part is, I already have a lot of them in the yard.

The next thing was to hope that lady bugs would discover the feast of aphids in the garden.  Of course, there have to be enough aphids to be an attractive food source for the lady bugs.  In looking in the curled up leaves of an aphid infested plant I saw something amazing.  Tiny lady bug larva.  A few days later in the curled up leaves of another aphid infested plant, the dried up remains of aphids and the skins of lady bug larva that had molted.

A well fed praying mantis.
The closer I look, the more I see a wonderful array of beneficials in the garden.  I discover new ones every day, some insects I have never seen before. As I look them up, I discover others that I have seen for years, but never knew they were beneficials.  There appears to be a wonderful balance in the garden, and though there may be some insect damage, it is minimal compared to the damage that would be caused if I tried to fight the battle on my own with pesticides.

October 6, 2013 update:  I keep check for thrips, and the other day I saw one, the only one since soon after this was posted.  There are also countless beneficials, including minute pirate bugs. Unfortunately cucumber beetles have discovered the roses, but I am sure beneficials insects will reduce their numbers as well.

Also see Why Organic Garden?

No comments:

Post a Comment