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Insects in the Garden

Bumblebee in Salvia

Gardens are a naturally attractive home for many insects. Have you ever considered adding your own insects to improve growth in your garden. But what are the benefits of insects in the garden? Specifically, we are talking about the bugs that are actually good for your plants. Insects like ladybugs, praying mantids, and green lacewings are great additions to your garden as they eat pests that would otherwise eat your plants!

Praying Mantids:

Praying Mantids

The praying mantids is a carnivorous predator which makes short work of pests bothering your plants. They will help clean your garden of insects like grasshoppers, beetles, and flies. However, they are the riskiest insect to introduce to your garden because they’re ruthless. While their menu often consists of the bugs you want to get rid of, they also eat beneficial bugs like butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and each other.

Be sure your garden is ready for the praying mantids. They favor organic gardens that include roses and raspberry, tall grass, and shrubbery.

If you come across praying mantids egg casings, you can transplant them into the garden. Cut the branch a few inches below the egg and transfer. The egg cases look like a tan or cream colored rigid cocoon and will be attached lengthwise to a branch.

Ladybugs:

Oftentimes considered lucky, beautiful, or gentle, ladybugs are ruthless predators. Before they grow into the red and black spotted adult form, they start as a larvae. These small black insects travel through gardens feasting on aphids. Ladybugs have the ability to eat up to 40 aphids per hour and 5,000 throughout their lifetime.

If you purchase ladybugs from a retailer, you must be sure to treat them with care and follow the instructions on the packaging so the release is effective.

Always keep the container out of direct sunlight and in a cool place. Be sure to water your garden before the release. Wait for sundown to release the insects. Ladybugs do not fly at night and will stay in your garden overnight finding food sources. However, if you release them during the day, they will fly away immediately. Shake them out of the container in groups at the base of plants where you’ve noticed aphids. Release 1/3 at a time. The first 1/3 the first night, wait two nights then release another 1/3, followed by the remained two nights later. Store the remaining lady bugs in the fridge in between spreading.

Green Lacewings:

These common insect are very beneficial to gardens. They are a predatory insect in their larvae stage and will feast on aphids along with mites and soft-bodied vegetarian insects like caterpillars. As green lacewings grow their diet will change to nectar and pollen.

Lacewings often appear on their own after the spring breeding season. They hatch from eggs hanging from thin, thread-like spindles on the undersides of plant leaves.

If you are releasing lacewings, or find them in your garden naturally, discontinue the use of broad-spectrum pesticides. These chemicals can decimate the beneficial insect population which creates new room for pests to multiply.

Praying mantis, green lacewings, and ladybugs are now available at Ashcombe in the Garden Supply section from Organic Control.

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