|Ladybugs are cute, but they are also voracious pest eaters,|
whether immature or full grown.
The supposed ideal lawn and garden is not insect friendly, for two reasons:
- The neatness obsession hurts the foundation of insect life.
- The bug-free obsession kills all the bug life for a time when only 1% of them can do any harm.
The important of insects is eloquently described below -
It might surprise you to know that a mere 1 percent of the insects we come across in our lives are actually harmful. These are the creatures that consume our plants, introduce disease, bite our flesh, feed on our pets, and cause economic, aesthetic, or medical damage. These are the bugs that tend to attract our attention, and as a result they get all the press—most of it negative.
The remaining 99 percent of insects are either benign or beneficial. Benign insects are very good at going about their business without harming our crops or us. And beneficial insects are, in fact, doing some type of good in the landscape. Insects can be beneficial for several reasons. First, they can be pollinators. We all know how important quality pollination is to a farm or garden. The world, after all, cannot function without it. Most of us can readily recognize common pollinators like honeybees and butterflies, but there are hundreds of thousands of other pollinator species in this world: beetles, moths, wasps, ants, flies, bats, and birds. Not to mention the more than thirty-five hundred species of native bees in the United States whose pollination work sadly and undeservedly plays second string to that of the imported European honeybee.
Fifteen billion dollars worth of food needs to be pollinated by some little creature each and every year in the United States alone.
Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 184-194). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.
|Crepe myrtle seed pods feed the birds in winter.|
Our crepe myrtle bush is quite the feeder by itself, a microcosm of what can be done. Insects find a pleasant home in bushes - food, shelter, and a place to leave larvae for the winter. A bush rains down mulch in the form of dead leaves on the soil below. I put wood mulch under our crepe myrtle and saw it being drawn into the soil below by the handful of worms I commissioned to work that area. I added to the mulch by trimming the plant and cutting up the trimmings as mulch below. A spider signaled the value of this pile by casting a filmy web across it to feed herself and her brood.
The second bloom of the bush turned into handsome seeds in pods at the top of the bush. Birds will use these for food all winter and recycle some of the food on the bush below. Birds will also seek out the larvae hidden in the branches.
A trashy yard and garden create an ideal living space for insects - and if left alone - for the beneficials that keep insect pests in line.
Trashy does not mean shabby, but multi-habitat. We all like the front yard to be showcases. In the spring of 2014 we had a front yard with an ugly space around the maple tree, an overgrown crepe myrtle, and grass. Now we have 16 mulched rose bushes, a neatly trimmed and twice-blooming crepe myrtle, and a trimmed maple tree with attractive mulch around the base.
A healthy garden, however, is absolutely teeming with parasitoids. Parasitoids are among the most abundant categories of animals on the planet, with about 150,000 described species and many more yet to be named. This population consists mostly of parasitoidal wasp and fly species. Adult female parasitoids find host insects (you’ll find out how later) and lay their eggs on or inside of them. These parasitoids are not dangerous to humans or other mammals as they can’t sting, nor do they ever use us as hosts.
Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 260-264). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.
|Unlike thorns, pigweed is easy to remove and great for the compost.|
Each big leafy plant is a village for insects good and bad.
The backyard has two mulched garden areas for 2015, spinach growing, and about 200 linear feet of mulched fence area. The dead tree is mulched for next year, when the trumpet vines will grow up its smooth exterior. Our mulch always has a newspaper base, which means our neighbors must pitch in with their extras, happy to be rid of them.
Some areas that went bonkers with weeds are now covered with newspapers and wood mulch. The dead weeds beneath are the ultimate green manure, loaded with nitrogen and carbs to feed the soil creatures, including insects, grubs, and a wide array of soil creatures.
Appreciating the natural cycle of predator and prey means recognizing that there is a place for pest insects in the landscape. Because the population of predators always lags behind that of prey, gardeners shouldn’t panic when pests are discovered. Instead, wait and watch for signs of arriving predators and parasitoids. It’s important to see that the population of predators always lags behind that of the prey (this is particularly true if a parasitoid is involved, as their lag time is actually a generation or two behind their host prey). If you put it on paper, it looks much like two undulating, wavy lines with the one representing the predators always hitting its peak slightly after the one representing the prey. In an undisturbed cycle, neither the population of predators nor that of prey will ever hit zero. This means that in order to sustain a healthy population of predators in the garden, one always has to have prey available.
Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 282-289). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.
Another resident seems to have planted or nourished some wild violets, so I am moving them to the back area where they can thrive.
The back section of the yard will be a cultivated trashy area, between the Butterfly Bushes and the Russian sunflowers. I want an area full of bee and butterfly plants, which will favor all the beneficial insects.
Everyone wants to chop down their weeds and grasses, but multi-habitat means tall plants, longer grass, and so-called weeds. Comfrey, pig weed, and goosefoot are not what we covet for the rose garden, but they are great for the wild area.
Whatever wild berries and herbs I can cultivate there will be welcomed by the life God created at the beginning of time.
The balance of life is illustrated by two different episodes of rose pruning. Our grandson Alexander found a grasshopper on the rose he was trimming. He did nothing to bother it, but trimmed near it. The grasshopper saw no reason to move, and we saw no damage. Later, I was cutting roses for our neighbor. A grasshopper was near my fingers and alive, but never moved. I ended up with blackspot on the roses, from the rainy season, but no insect damage.
A single ladybug—probably the most illustrious beneficial predatory insect—can consume up to five thousand aphids during its lifetime, and a single minute pirate bug—probably the least illustrious predatory beneficial—eats about thirty pests per day; and there are thousands of other insect species that do the same.
Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 203-206). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.
|Plant id test -|
yes, this is goosefoot, easy to eat
good for you.
Why do you pay for a salad when eating out?
Instead, eat a salad outdoors.