Posted on 23 June 2012 by

Letting Nature Handle Garden Pests


By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

The other day, I was reading an article about how this year’s mild winter is going to create an environment full of pests.

Many pests were not killed due to the winter wind and freezes; instead mesquites have shown up in many areas in February while butterflies could be found flying the first of March.

In doing so, many people wonder what this year’s garden season is going to be like.

But I am not going to worry about it. Nature has a way of dealing with pests and utilizing nature’s techniques will help me have a successful gardening season without having to use alternative methods.

Start with Healthy Plants

Healthy plants are just one way to start the season off right. It has been discovered that pests do not feed haphazardly on plant material but instead strike a certain target. This target is created by a certain wavelength of light that is released by a plant that is sick or weak. The insect picks up on this wavelength and then the feeding frenzy begins.

So the moral of this natural story is to plant the healthiest plants possible.

Roll Out the Welcome Mat to Beneficial Insects

The relationship between beneficial insects and pests is one that is eons old. The key to utilizing this type of pest control is to create an environment that is inviting to them and if need be reintroduce them into the environment.

While this reintroduction may seem odd, there are several things that can contribute to the decline of beneficial insects. One is lack of food but generally once you have these insects in your environment they typically do not stray. The biggest concern is pesticide use and it does not have to be you using it.

Insects do not know about boundaries or property lines and instead go where the food and shelter is located. In doing so, many beneficial insects have been killed by overly excited homeowners who want to get a jump on insect control, whether good or bad.

To prevent this, try educating your neighbors about alternatives and if your beneficial insects have left the scene, then move them back into the neighborhood.

Many seed catalogs carry beneficial insects in egg form. This includes lacewings, ladybugs or lady beetles, hover fly, parasitic wasps, and praying mantis.

To keep the beneficial insects in your garden space, one will need to provide food, water, and shelter. Food is not a problem and your little helpers will seek out their own food source but to aid in this search keep a few small nectar plants, such as carrots in the garden. The bloom of the carrot has a short nectar reservoir that is prefect for these insects.
Also, plant flat types of flowers around the garden space. This will give the insects a flat landing surface by which they can wait for prey or just sun themselves on.

Water is another important factor but you do not have to sit up an “insect bath.” Simple puddles left after a rain or after you water your garden will suffice. Even just raindrops left on leaves is enough moisture for these little garden helpers.

The moral of this strategy is everything has a place and purpose. To utilize this technique, follow the old saying about letting nature take its course.

So until be blog again, roll out the welcome mat to nature’s devices. In the long run, she will surprise you with the wealth and health of her bounty.

Leave a Reply

Recent Comments