We all know it –nothing could be more frustrating being a gardener than finding our prized vegetables being plagued by pests. The good news is that every insect has a predator, and we can use that natural food chain system to our advantage. With a sufficient number of “good bugs” in your garden, you will be able to keep pests to manageable numbers. You just have to learn how to draw these beneficial insects in to your yard to help grow healthy plants.
Ways to Fight off Garden Pests with the Good Bugs
Although it might seem counter-intuitive to bring more insects into your garden, believe it or not, there’s a way that you can use your environment to keep pests at bay. This can be done by introducing the “good bugs” in to the mix which will prey on the “bad” ones that are wreaking havoc on your veggies. Here’s how you can attract these beneficial insects:
- Do your research and provide for the good bugs’ hiding spots. Determine which specific insects are useful and which ones could be harmful to your garden then figure out the good-to-bad bug ratio. Some of your most common ally are the lady bugs, praying mantis, ground beetles, and stink bugs. Although some good bugs tend to patrol all day to feed on the pesky ones, others tend to stay underground during the day and just go hunt at night. Give these nocturnal insects some shade to hide from the sun by using mulch or stepping stones.
- Give good bugs access to adequate water and then mix in their favorite plants. Like any organism, insects have to drink too in order to stay alive. So ensure that there is enough water for your tiny garden helpers. If you already have a sprinkler system in place, the puddles from that should be sufficient. Otherwise, you might need to leave a small bowl of water nearby for your little friends to drink from. Just don’t leave these containers out for too long without changing its contents as it will only attract mosquitoes which you would never want to be another thing to deal with. Lure the beneficial insects into you vegetable garden by growing the plants that they like such as parsley, lemon balm, and sunflowers. Making a border around the perimeters of these plants will also help attract and keep the good bugs in your garden. Quite a few them out there are ideal for border planting – fennel, borage, and cup plants.
- Bring in the bees and don’t pluck all of your garden weeds. Mason bees are great beneficial insects that you can introduce to your garden. Keep them around by drilling holes into soft woods and hanging it around your plants, or by placing coffee horizontally and then filling it with drinking straws. This may be a little difficult to do if you are an OCD gardener but it’s important that you do not always pluck every single weed in your garden. This is because leaving out a few of them undisturbed can help attract a greater diversity of plants which in turn can give you a better change of hosting the good bugs.
- Stop using pesticides and other toxic chemical for pest control. Even organic pesticides can pose harmful effects to your beneficial insects so avoid using these compounds altogether. By getting rid of pesticides, you can keep the good bugs alive; thus, maintain the healthy balance in your garden by warding off those nuisance insects.
If you wish to identify the bugs in your garden, you can go to the BugGuide to find out all about them.