We’ve already talked about how attracting birds to your garden yields many benefits and can be used as a method of pest control. This time of year it’s a topic often on our minds, it’s amazing how quickly infestations can multiply. One spot or one bug, can quickly become hundreds more, taking down a plant in its prime. Many of us when seeing insects want swift and immediate eradication, but not all bugs are bad!! In this blog we will extoll the virtues of beneficial bugs in your garden and how to draw them into your space.
We’re going to focus on the most common type of beneficial bug, the predator. Some you may recognize and some your going to want to meet (promise they’ll be no shaking of hands).
Lady Bugs are one of the most easily recognized beetles. Cute and often in cartoon lady bugs are downright adorable. Best of all they love aphids and other soft body insects and can eat up to 50 aphids per lady bug per day
Sodier beetles are a recent introduction to our Ontario eco system already being established in places like British Columbia and Quebec. They eat the same food as their lady friends.
Ground beetles are well defined by their names. These nocturnal bugs spend most of their time roaming around the soil for snails, cutworms, slugs, maggots and other pests that live in the ground.
Create beetle habitats! Ground beetles love mounds of perennial grasses and flowering plants. Tight raised plantings keep the ground moist but not wet, and the cover keeps temperatures even. Rocks, logs and other natural features will draw these helpful insects. Soldier beetles appreciate flowering herbs and members of the daisy family as well as many types of native shrubs. Lady Bugs will want you to fill your garden with pollen producing plants as it serves as their other primary food source. A small dish of water can also be left out for your 6 legged guests to drink.
It’s the babies who are voracious eaters in this group. With the larvae being down right cannibalistic eating caterpillars, mealybugs, leafhoppers, insect eggs, and whiteflies, even other lacewings!! The parents aren’t predaceous and will need to be supplied with lots of plant nectar and aphid honeydew as food prior to laying eggs. (Aphid honeydew is basically the goo left behind in aphid feeding processes)They like many of the same conditions as your beetle friends but should you notice an aphid problem that needs to be brought to the attention of lacewings, spray plants with a light solution of sugar and water.
Another nocturnal hunter, praying mantis are capable of catching and eating moths. They can be enticed by plants within the rose or raspberry family as well as by tall grasses and shrubbery for shelter.
Attracting bugs to your garden can be tricky and occasionally they will need to be introduced. However there are some general activities that can encourage bugs to visit your space. A key is to go green and stay there. One dousing of insecticide can wipe out any chance of attracting beneficial bugs, even if you are spraying adjacent areas. It sends a clear message of no bugs allowed.
Good luck and bugs be with you.