Thursday, August 2, 2012

Encouraging beneficial insects for aphid control.

Okay, I've probably said this before.. we must encourage beneficial insects to do our pest control. Not all problems can be solved but there are some extremely useful beneficial insects that will control aphids, which are seen as a major pest by many people in spring.
Ladybirds and lacewings are easy to encourage, simply by allowing a plant that has aphids to have aphids. They will build in numbers a little but this is the time needed for predatory insect numbers to increase to a level where they can control the pests. NOT spraying with chemicals is the best way to allow these useful insects to build up numbers.

Unfortunately people often spray just as ladybirds and lacewings are beginning to build up enough to be able to destroy their prey. Hoverflies, ladybirds, lacewings and their larvae are all killed easily with pyrethrin based sprays.  The larvae of these 'good bugs' are all able to eat aphids and will also eat caterpillar and beetle eggs they find, so they are extremely useful little creatures. Tiny wasps also lay their eggs in aphids, leaving little beige aphid mummies behind when the new wasp emerges from the dead aphids body.

"Natural" pesticides, though still far, far better than more nasty pesticides,  can sometimes cause unseen negative effects, so be sure to check whether you even need to spray.
If there are only a few of a pest it may be easy to pick them off and drop them into soapy water or squash them. Inspecting your plants regularly is a great way to keep on top of any potential problems.

Growing long flowering plants will also encourage the good guys to hang around as the adults rely on nectar from flowers for energy. Gone to seed vegetables, daisies, herbs, Allysum, Lobelia and many annual flowers are good to have around and will readily reseed from year to year.

Be wary of what you use to control pests in the garden.

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