|This is a book to memorize, Creationists:|
Attracting Beneficial Insects to Your Garden.
My mother taught science and knew birds, mushrooms, wildflowers, moths, butterflies, and bugs. That is where I learned that most insects were beneficial and never to fear the rest of them. If we were out camping, she would trap a living bug and show us something.
After learning the microbial life of soil, the next most important part of gardening is bug life. Soil improvement is relatively simple - add mulch and the fungus, bacteria, nematodes, protozoa, and soil creatures will do the rest. When the weeds break through the mulch - add another layer of mulch.
Bugs are different. Like the birds, they have differing needs for shelter and food. Some bugs are voracious when hatched but need pollen and nectar as adults. Some bugs devour as babies and as adults - ladybugs and big-eyed bugs. Giving them the right plants will improve their ability to fight the damaging insects.
I am already thinking about three bugs I hardly knew existed, although I remember flower flies from childhood. I remember my mother saying about flower flies, "They look like little bees, but they aren't. They are good for the garden."
Two things kept me from using insecticide in the garden, starting in the 1980s. One was her advice to let beneficial insects do their job. The second was the cost of chemicals and the Dow chemists laughing about how overprices their products were.
I am just going to review some overlooked bugs, and I am sure you will start seeing them if you look closely at your plants outside.
Yes, they are small—measuring a mere 0.375 inch (10 mm) at maturity—but big-eyed bugs are also mighty. Each one is capable of consuming several dozen pests per day, making them among the most valuable natural enemies around. They are also among the most abundant. As generalist predators, they eat a protein-based diet including insect eggs, spider mites, aphids, cabbage worms, caterpillars, flea beetles, leafhoppers, thrips, lygus bug nymphs, corn earworms, whiteflies, and many, many others. One study revealed that big-eyed bugs consume sixty-seven different varieties of insects! These beneficials forage for pests on plants as well as on the soil, making these microhelpers incredibly important to gardeners.
Both the nymphs and adults of this amazing little insect are protein eaters. Slightly oblong with a broad head and distinctive wide-set bulging eyes (which help them spot their prey as well as their predators), the adults have clear wings that overlap and rest on their backs. They are brown, black, or gray in color. Females lay eggs on or near prey clusters to enable the hatching nymphs to find food quickly. Each female can lay up to three hundred eggs in her lifetime. Nymphs look much the same as adults except they’re a bit smaller and lack wings. Big-eyed bugs mature from egg to adult in about thirty days. Though their primary food source is other insects, big-eyed bugs also feed on nectar, sap, and small seeds to sustain themselves when prey are scarce. They spend the winter in garden debris and grassy areas [GJ - Aha. Keep the garden trash], and emerge in the spring to begin feeding on prey by piercing them with a specialized mouthpart and sucking out the internal organs (not a bad thought when you consider exactly whose guts they’re consuming!).
Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 647-660). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.
|Charles Darwin: “I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars …”|
Ichneumon wasps FAMILY Ichneumonidae NORTH AMERICAN SPECIES 3300
While many species of ichneumon wasps are extremely tiny, others are very large (up to 1.5 inches or 40 mm!). All are slender with long antennae. Many females have a highly noticeable ovipositor; it is sometimes longer than the insect’s body. Ichneumon wasps can be yellow to black or have patterns of various colors. They use caterpillars, the wood-boring grubs of various beetles, and other insects as hosts.
Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 1139-1144). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.
|"Cremastinae wasp" by Muhammad Mahdi Karim (www.micro2macro.net) Facebook Youtube - Own work. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons.|
The text below is copied verbatim. Note the many embedded links.
|Don't judge me...I had to buy this book,|
so I ordered it on Kindle.