Gardeners are always talking about beneficial insects. However, they don’t always tell what these insects are.
Here is a list of the insects you want hanging around your garden because they eat the bad insects and help provide the valuable nutrients your garden needs to thrive..
- Bees – We all know how important they are for pollination. Here’s more info on what happens when we kill all our bees.
- Wasps – They eat aphids, mites, whiteflies, caterpillar eggs, moth larvae, beetles and corn earwigs.
- Praying Mantis – these unusual looking bugs are great for controlling aphids.
- Ladybugs – These “ladies” of the garden control aphids, mealy bugs and mites.
- Beetles – particularly ground beetles, are fantastic for eating caterpillars, even slugs and cut worms.
- Spiders – They are extremely beneficial for eating a wide variety of pests.
- Green Lacewings – Consume aphids, mites and a variety of pest eggs.
- Earthworms – While they are not insects, I am still going to put them on the list. These guys do more for the garden then you may think. Providing nutrients, aerating the soil and controlling PH are just the beginning of their contribution.
Earthworms will do wonder on your soil
They are slimy, slithery, and all around icky. They can make grown woman squeal like little girls. Men use them for bait and little boys dare each other to eat them. However, they are also your greatest ally in the garden. They are earthworms and they can turn even the most barren garden into a lush paradise.
I am sure you have heard people tell you that you need earthworms in your garden, but you may not be exactly sure why.
Earthworms are essential to the garden for a number of reasons. First they are terrific at aerating the soil. Plants need to breath and worms provide air in the soil.
Worms keep your soil loose which makes it easier for your roots to grow. This also helps your plants be able to absorb the nutrients they need. Earthworms help your soil retain moisture, which means you can water less. They help balance your PH and raise the mineral content in your soil. Most importantly earthworms provide all the nutrients that your soil needs to produce delicious veggies. They naturally fertilize your garden. If you have enough earthworms in you soil, you can fertilize less but still have healthy plants.
Your vegetables are only as healthy as your soil and earthworms ensure that you soil is loose, rich and full of nutrients and minerals.
By encouraging a few of natures most helpful insects you can not only control harmful pests but you can also grow your veggies organically.
The praying mantis may be, hands down, the most unusual bug on the planet. Actually, they almost look extra-terrestrial.
There are over 2,000 species of mantis with 20 species being native to the US. If you happen to spot one of these carnivorous insects and it turns it head around 180 degree’s to take a closer look at you, don’t call the priest. You have not found a demonic creature living in your tomatoes. This is perfectly normal, with some species being able to turn their heads almost 360 degrees.
While it is highly unlikely that you encounter such a species, there are actually members of the mantis family that eat rodents, frogs, lizards and even birds.
You can purchase praying mantis at your local nursery or online. You can even purchase eggs online and hatch them in your yard. If you do decide to enlist the help of praying mantis keep in mind that they not only eat the pests in your garden but also the beneficial insects, so they may not be the best choice for every garden. You can attract praying mantis to your garden with cosmos and raspberries.
Praying Mantis are perfect for controlling aphids, fruit flies, black fly larvae, caterpillars, leafhoppers, moths, mosquitoes, and scale insects. Pretty much, it will eat anything it can which makes it both our friends and enemy to the organic garden.
The ladybug is one of, if not the most, recognizable garden insect. What many of you may not know is, that there are over 500 species of the lady beetle in North America. Not all of them have their signature spots and not all of them are even red!
While their diet slightly varies between species, most of them tend to eat soft bodied insects, which means they are perfect for controlling aphids. In fact a single lady bug can eat 50-60 aphids a day.
If you do not have ladybugs naturally in your garden, you have two choices. First you can head down to your local organic nursery or online nursery and purchase them. This is recommended if you have an infestation and need help ASAP. If you are looking to control pests then simply try to attract ladybugs.
They love cosmos, which are ideal because they thrive in a number of climates, geraniums, fennel, and dill.
Ladybugs are great for controlling aphids, bollworms, potato beetle, green peach aphid and leafhoppers scale insects, mealybugs, mites and whiteflies.
Stop Killing Bees! Our Lives Depend On It!
There have been a lot of apocalyptic buzzwords floating around the web-o-sphere these days. Terms like global warming, bird flu, and weapons of mass destruction are enough to make any one cringe.
But there is a very common cause, of environmental problems, that is destroying our planet.
More specifically, killing bee’s and wasps with pesticides.
Take a moment and imagine, if you will, a world without bees.
Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Yeah what’s the big deal with bees? Why do I care if they all die? They sting me and torment my dog”.
Well maybe that’s just my dog (bees love to sting him for some reason), but that is beside the point.
You may not realize this but bees are a large reason that we are alive today
Bees are responsible for about 30% of the United States food supply.
Think for a moment how many things are pollinated by bees. Oranges, apples, watermelon strawberries and pears just to name a few. Ok so you think “that’s ok I can still eat meat”. Unfortunately the other vegetation that would be largely affected is alfalfa. The very same alfalfa that feeds the cattle America consumes.
No bees = 30% less crops = less food all around
With people starving as it is, and resources becoming more and more fleeting and valuable. I’d say its time to leave our bees and wasps alone.
The Decrease In The Honeybee Population, Scientists Are Baffled
The honeybee population has dwindled to nearly 50% of what it was just 50 years ago. Billions of bee’s, an essential part of our ecosystem, completely wiped out! 50% of their population destroyed since 1958!
The contributing factors?
Mite’s: The Bee’s Natural Enemy
- THE VARROA MITE atttacks the larvae killing bee’s before they are born.
- TRACHEAL MITES can wipe out an entire hive in just a few hours by attacking the respiratory systems of adult honeybees
Factor #2: Chemical Pesticides
This one WE can control. Even if not directly sprayed on a hive, the porus material can soak up all sorts of rotten chemicals. Bee’s are fragile as it is, and their immune systems have no ability to fight chemicals pesticides.
One more reason to go organic and stop using stuff that kills nature.
Just say no to chemical killers.
There are plenty of ways to ward off unwanted insects without killing them We will be discussing them in future posts.
The next time you are outside enjoying a picnic and a honeybee stops by to say hello, before you swat him away think about how much your life depends on his.