Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Wild life in the garden, part I


Ideally, we should attract three kind of beneficial insects into the garden - parasites, predators and pollinators. When I say parasites, I mean parasites on pests not the plants!
Insects love scented flowers. Pollinated insects such as bumblebees and bees will certainly come to Nepeta, Salvia, Agastache, Asters, Echinacea, Monarda, Lavandula, Rosmarinus... Having pollinating insects in the garden is very important especially if you grow fruit e.g. apples, pears and red currants.

Bumblebee on Centaurea

Butterflies may be both pollinators and pests and are attracted to flowers full of nectar but also to caterpillar host plants. Buddleia in bloom is always full of butterflies. It is also called "Butterfly bush" - certainly for a reason! Vividly coloured and scented flowers attract the butterflies, but they come to our vegetable gardens too. Just think of the Cabbage White! How many times you saw the eggs and caterpillars on the cabbage leaves?
Lovely butterfly visiting Lychnis flowers.

Thanks God, we mostly think of butterflies as a beautiful creatures and not the pests even though their caterpillars may cause severe damage on plants. I usually collect them manually. Better so than spraying with pesticides.

We do not have to kill every single creature that crawls in our garden and bite the leaves of our precious plants. Aphids, for example, are eaten by lady beetles and green lacewings.

Praying mantis

Praying mantis is certainly a predator and is capable to handle bigger pest, but it eats also caterpillars.
Ground beetles (Carabus ssp.), wasps and stink bugs are beneficial insects feeding on snails, aphids, and other insects.

You can make an insect hotel, or simply leave hollow brick, old tree trunk or pile of twigs  in some wild part of your garden. These wasps made their home on the inner side of my old garbage can which I now use as a composter.

Plant the plants of the Apiaceae family. They are excellent insect plants as well as Compositae and Lamiaceae.

Graphosoma lineatum loves dill

Tip: Try to have an organic garden and avoid use of pesticides to preserve the wild life. Pests are annoying, but they too are part of nature so, try to see them in another light. They can be collected manually, or try to spray the plants with natural remedies to fight them.

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