Don't kill the ladybugs!

347
10
Joined Oct 5, 2001
Dear Friends:

I thought that some of you might like reading this.

Most bugs are beneficial for plants, including ladybugs, earthworms, lacewings and praying mantis. We can control pest bugs with organic solutions that do not affect negatively the balance in our garden.

ANTS

They are not actually a pest of plants. Ants found on plants are generally gathering honeydew created by aphids (a common sight on peonies). The solution is to eliminate the aphids.

Carpenter ants may build a nest in old rotting wood, but they do not attack live wood. Ants make large colonies in the ground, especially in sandy areas, and are simply a nuisance. Here is a recipe for ant control:

1 litre water

1 tsp. boric acid (available at drug stores)

1 cup sugar

Soak cotton balls in the solution; place the balls in an old margarine container with holes punched in the lid so the ants can get in; place in locations where ants have been seen. The ants will take the bait back to the nest and pass it on to the colony.

APHIDS

These ******* insects are common garden pests often found on the new growth of plants. The damage created by aphids includes wilting and deformity of new growth.

Aphids are soft-shelled and are easily controlled with insecticidal soap or a pyrethrum-based product such as Aim. These are natural organic sprays that have no harmful effect on humans or pets.

If the infestation is extreme, place the plant in a plastic bag after spraying, secure the top and leave for 24 hours. This will prevent aphids flying to other plants and starting the cycle again.

BEETLES

Many types of beetles attack plants, and they usually eat the leaves.

Eggs are usually laid on the plant in late fall or early spring. The larvae hatch, eat the leaves and then pupate, emerging as beetles. The beetles also eat the leaves of the plant, later in the season, causing a second round of damage. Spraying dormant oil spray early in the spring can help kill the eggs before they hatch. Aim will bring them under control if you make contact with the insect.

CATERPILLARS

Caterpillars are a common sight on trees and shrubs and are often present in the spring. They are chewing insects and can completely defoliate their hosts.

Spraying at the first indication of damage will eliminate them before they do too much damage. An organic spray, often referred to as BTK, contains bacteria that only harms caterpillars. Insecticidal soaps such as Aim and Trounce can also be used.

To prevent caterpillars from migrating onto trees, a band of sticky Tanglefoot can be placed around the trunk. (It is a type of glue that can be spread or sprayed.) For natural control, lacewings, praying mantis and trichogramma wasps can be introduced into the garden.

EUROPEAN LILY BEETLE

The adults lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves until late June. The distinctive larvae emerge to feed on the back of the leaves for two to three weeks, then enter the soil to pupate. Young adults appear about three weeks later. They feed until the fall, then enter the ground until spring, when they emerge to mate.

Picking off and squashing the bugs (or dropping them into a pail of water) seems to be the only organic solution, but it is a small price to pay to save your precious lilies from total defoliation and extinction. Squash the egg masses with your thumb and fingers (don't forget to wear your gloves!)

LAWN GRUBS

Control of white grub, which is the larval stage of the June beetle, or European chafer (grey grub) can be managed successfully once the ground temperature has warmed to above 15C. A biological control such as Lawn Guardian can be used. It contains millions of microscopic worms called nematodes that are watered into the lawn. The nematodes seek out the grubs and use them as a host for their eggs. When the nematodes encounter the grub, death occurs within about 24 hours.

Nematodes are harmless to humans and pets, and are benign for the environment.

With patience and a little knowledge, most bugs can be eliminated from your garden naturally, without causing harm to the beneficial insects.

 
1,586
11
Joined Jan 5, 2001
Excellent point Papa! As much as I hate bugs in my house, they have a very useful function in the garden. I cringe everytime I see TV commercials that advertise "We kill everything. Guaranteed!" Why would you want a bug-free lawn? Get astroturf for heavens' sake!!

I think that a judicious use of herbs can also help to control bugs, that is not to kill them but to redirect them in other areas of your garden where you don't hang out as much. Basil for example is known to repel mosquitoes. Thyme, rosemary, lavender can all be used to redirect bugs as well. Can't remember which repels what but there are lots of sources on the web if you're interested.
 
347
10
Joined Oct 5, 2001
This graemlin reminds me so much of Maigret, my five month old Scottie, that I had to post it!



:)
 
203
11
Joined Oct 12, 1999
Thanks for the info Papa! I am having to deal with bugs and mosquitos brought about by floodwaters. Will try to implement some of those techniques!
 
659
10
Joined Nov 19, 1999
I avoid killing insects as much as possible in the summer, including spiders. I will have my husband move them from the porches to a bush, etc. because I respect all life forms and I know that their time is short. Of all insects I am terrified of the praying mantis! I will go a block out of my way to avoid one. Why? I don't know :( Does anyone else feel this way about a particular insect? :eek: :eek: :eek:
 
1,586
11
Joined Jan 5, 2001
Spiders, cockroaches, silverfish, ants, wasps, bees, spiders, spiders..... Get my drift? I have a friend who is a Bhuddist. She doesn't kill anything ever. She just puts it in her yard. I sometimes bug her (pardon the pun) and ask her if does that in the wintertime thereby killing them. Apparently she lives with a menagerie of insects until spring comes along! :eek:
 
26
10
Joined Jun 13, 2001
Papa:

I have been growing various herbs during the summer for about 3 years now. I just noticed that my parsley is being stripped of all its leaves and found a large green caterpillar on the plant. I've never had this problem in past years.

I don't want to use anything that would be harmful to eat so I'm wondering if there is any safe way to get rid of this pest.

Is the organic spray you mentioned safe to use on edible plants?
 
347
10
Joined Oct 5, 2001
Dear Twylyn:

I had the same problem with caterpillars on my dill. Since I didn’t want any chemical sprays on my edible herbs that may be toxic to people, I tried to do some research myself a few years back to see how I might remedy the problem.

The best advice that I found after reading garden books published by American, British and French garden experts was to either physically remove the caterpillars from the plants by hand-picking or hosing them off, or use a solution of insecticidal soap or a pyrethrum-base insecticide which are both non-toxic to humans.

The effective caterpillar-removal method of spraying a solution containing Bacillus thuringiensis, which is a bacteria that you buy as a powder containing dried spores, was not feasible in this case because this bacteria would remain on these edible herbs. According to the late Geoff Hamilton, a renowned British garden expert who wrote many books on the subject of gardening and hosted a long running BBC television series on gardening, the Bacillus has an advantage over chemical pesticides for the rest of your non-edible garden or greenhouse because it only affects caterpillars and has no effects on other garden animals. Mr. Hamilton was a great believer in preserving the natural life cycles of all living things in the garden because he believed that each living creature had a function to serve.

Since I happen to share Mr. Hamilton’s philosophy and I have always loved butterflies since I was a child, I decided to leave the caterpillars alone and I grew more dill in moveable pots so that I could keep one step ahead of them. My efforts were rewarded with the most beautiful landscape of colorful butterflies that flew like the wings of angels in the wind!

Good luck, whatever you decide to do!

Best regards,

:)
 
26
10
Joined Jun 13, 2001
Thanks,Papa...

And especially for reminding me about butterflies
...funny how in my head I wasn't associating the two!

Actually, I have physically removed a couple of caterpillars from the parsley already, and wasn't enjoying the thought of killing them with a spray or something (when my daughter was little she loved caterpillars, and we both love butterflies).

And the idea of planting extra plants in pots is a very good one.

[ August 07, 2001: Message edited by: twylyn ]
 
Top Bottom