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How To Control Pests Naturally. About Beneficial Insects
A Guide To Beneficial Garden Bugs
By Karl Schultz, Austin, TX
Here are some tips on how to use beneficial insects in your garden.
You don't have to nuke your entire yard and garden just to get rid of a few bad apples. First you need to learn who your allies are and avoid harming them. Your friends are the beneficial insects and they include ladybugs, assassin bugs, bigeyed bugs, lacewings, ground beetles, lady beetles, minute pirate bugs, parasitic wasps, predatory wasps, spiders, syrphid flies and more.
Photo of a Lacewing, One of Your Best Beneficial Insects
First you should find a good book on beneficial insects that shows the egg and larvae stages so you can recognize them when they lay eggs on your plants. Learn to recognize the signs that they have been feeding, such as hollowed out remains of aphids. Learn to tolerate wasps and bees since they feed on harmful insects and help to pollinate the plants in your garden which otherwise might not bear fruit. Usually they are only aggressive around their nests. Leave them alone under the eaves around the side of the house where it is least traveled.
Another "good bug", the assassin bug.
Be patient when using beneficial insects to kill bad bugs. Don't expect a box of ladybugs that you bought at the garden store to work as fast as chemical pesticide. You can tolerate a minor amount of damage to your plants, this is normal in nature.
If you decide that you do need to spray, select a narrow spectrum as opposed to a broad spectrum pesticide. Narrow spectrum brands kill specific pests and not all beneficial insects. Try and buy the one that does the least harm to birds, bats, lizards, toads and all the other friends you have in your garden.
Try and make your garden a home for beneficial insects and animals. Put in a birdbath to encourage birds such as mockingbirds to visit and eat bugs. A fountain and the sound of running water will attract birds. Plant flowering vines that make nectar that attract beneficial insects and birds like hummingbirds. Hummingbirds diet consists of both insects and nectar.
Plant tropical milkweed. It attracts a kind of aphid that is not harmful and feeds your ladybugs, etc, so that they are always around.
Also, in addition to beneficial insects and narrow spectrum natural pesticides, good old fashioned hand eradication can prove effective for larger bugs such as squash beetles that are easy to spot. Wear gloves and avoid contact with mouth and eyes after killing bugs.
more natural pest control methods can be found at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/
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