Good Bugs vs. Bad Bugs

Good_bugChemicals have been the most widely used form of pest control since the late 1930s. Most people have been successfully taught by insecticide advertising to fear and hate all insects. With the ever-increasing concerns of the environment we share, rising chemical costs, and an increased resistance by the pests to chemicals, the use of beneficial insects are on the rise. Consumer purchasing of natural pest control has increased 300% over the past few years. People concerned about their environments, families with children and pets, and people with health issues are especially welcoming this alternative to chemicals.

praying_mantis

From Art in the Garden
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Beneficial insects are divided into two categories: parasite and predator. The ladybug is an example of a predator, the aphid a parasite. The ladybug consumes bad bugs such as aphids, whitefly, spider mites, mealy bugs, scale, and many other soft-bodied insect pests.

The praying mantis is strictly carnivorous and will feed on almost any garden pest it encounters. Mantises are showy creatures and help control garden insect pests the organic way. They are also very interesting to have around.

Beneficial insects attack pest problems by reducing the number of a given pest to below a damaging level. So, instead of using harmful insecticides, try creating a line of defense the natural way.

1,500 ladybugs will generally be sufficient for a 500 square foot planted area. Repeat releases two or three times a week is recommended. One single ladybug can consume 5,000 aphids in its 100-day life cycle. It is highly important NOT to use broad spectrum insecticides, which are toxic to beneficial ladybugs.

Two praying mantis egg sacks will cover 3,000 square feet. It can take eight weeks to hatch from the brown paper bag-like sack.

Just like a sci-fi movie, nematodes are lethal little buggers that disintegrate plant pests from the inside out. After their first application to your garden, they waste no time getting to work. Nematodes enter pests through their body openings and, once inside, kill the pest within 48 hours. Once they’ve gotten what they need out of one pest, they quickly exit and track down their next victim. They are a great control for root weevil larvae.  We suggest applying nematodes in the early morning or at dusk.

As for red wiggly worms, they’re more than just a cute name. A bunch of redred_wigglers wigglers are an ideal addition to your composting and gardening efforts. Aside from spicy foods, these worms will eat just about anything that is plant based, turning your compost into some of the richest plant food you can find. The wigglers’ castings promote healthy root systems, naturally aerate soil, retain moisture and slowly release nutrients.

At Garland Nursery you will find fresh supplies of these beneficial garden predators: Ladybugs, Praying Mantis, Nematodes.

Kids are fascinated by beneficial bugs, as well as other creepy crawlies.  This Saturday, April 13th, Garland Nursery’s Little Sprouts Kids Club is learning all about Garden Friends: Snakes, Beneficial Insects and Animals. It starts at 11am.  The cost is $5.  Please pre-register by calling us at (541) 753-6601.

About Brenda Powell

I'm one of the owners of a family-owned retail nursery. I have a degree in horticulture from Oregon State University. I love to garden and read. My technically savvy but horticulturally challenged husband, Mitch, spends most of his time as slave labor in the garden. Thank goodness he adores me! My goal in this blog is to share my enjoyment of gardening, my love of nature, and my addiction to books. Did I mention I like to cook, too?
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