The Most Hardworking Bugs in a Garden


| June/July 1996


• Sidebar: Which Bugs Are Good For Your Garden? 

On a sunny afternoon in the herb garden, you pause and lean closer to smell a flower, check on a new transplant, and pull a weed. Suddenly you notice dozens of aphids working on the new leaves of your oregano, but before you have time to worry, you see that help is on the way. Other bugs are also roaming the plants, apparently feeding on the pests.

Most gardeners realize that many kinds of insects in a garden can be beneficial in managing the damaging kinds that also occur there. Many can recognize the more familiar ones—lady beetles, green lacewings, even some of the parasitic wasps that dine on garden pests. Not often, however, do gardeners give much thought to the needs or cultivation of these naturally occurring biological controls.

Beneficial insects have environmental needs that parallel our own: a good place to raise their young, food to sustain the young and the adults, a bit of shelter, and freedom from harmful gardening practices. Fulfilling these needs for them can improve the efficacy of biological controls.

The immature stages of many kinds of beneficial insects look quite different from the adults and have different food requirements. A few bugs to munch on is their primary need. Some protection from winds, a bit of mulch, or a place to nest are usually all that they need in the way of shelter. Limiting ­pesticide applications or selecting products such as soaps, Bacillus thurin­giensis, and neem, which have little ­­­ef­fect­­ on beneficial ­insects, can help control pests ­without wiping out the complementary efforts of natural controls.

Although nearly every garden provides food for the young of beneficial insects, not all of them meet the food needs of the adults. Many adult beneficials sustain themselves on nectar for energy, and some need pollen as a source of protein and vitamins. For example, syrphid flies, whose maggotlike young are among the most effective controls of aphids in a garden, must feed on nectar and pollen before they can produce eggs. The adult stages of many lady beetles, parasitic wasps, and green lacewings similarly depend on flowering plants for sustenance, and the absence of these plants can greatly ­reduce their effectiveness as biological pest controls.





mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!

LEARN MORE



Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265