Beneficial Garden Insects and Non-Chemical Pest Control

 

The Good Guys 

Ladybugs – larvae and adults feed on aphids, mealy bugs, soft scales and spider mites. I'm going to purchase the larvae and disperse throughout my gardens.

Lacewings – I'm buying these larvae as well. Laravae voraciously devour aphids, scales, mealybugs, thrips, leafhoppers, mites, insect eggs and larva. Lacewings can eat more than 100 bad bugs a day.

Ground beetles – eats aphids, snails, bark beetle larvae

Dragonflies – catches the flying bad bugs

Dwarf Spiders - get the prey on the ground - I still detest spiders, as helpful as they might be.

Minute Pirate Bug –Eats aphids, thrip, spider mites and insect eggs.

Assassin Bug - holds it's  prey and then goodbye bad bug. i find them scary looking.

Damsel Bugs – eats aphids, mites, caterpillars, thrips.

Big-eyed Bugs – Distinctive bulging eyes. Feeds on caterpillars, spider mites, flea beetles and others

Syrphid Flies – some are colored like a bee. Larvae feed on aphids, scales and caterpillars. Can eat sixty aphids each day. Yum.

Praying Mantis (walking sticks) – grabs and devours. I used to see so many when i was a child, even in the city. I see a few pairs a year.. and yes, very scary looking. There may be more than i think, since my eyesight is bad and their cammoflage is excellent.

Spined Soldier Bug

Earwigs

Parasites

These are  insects that lay eggs in, on or around other insects so that the larva that hatches can eat the host.

Wasps - I don't like them, but they do get rid of bad bugs. Stingless, the parasitic wasps lay eggs near, or deposited into the body of living bugs.

Tachinid flies - i still instinctively swat flies. Tachinids lay eggs on the bodies of caterpillars. When the eggs hatch, the maggots (yuck) burrow into the insect and eat it from the inside out.

Gardening With Diatomaceous Earth

About a decade ago, I had a problem with Carpenter Bees drilling holes under my deck railings. I'm a bee lover, and it causes me pain to need to eliminate them. But damage is expensive. And after trying all the natural and humane ways of ridding myself of the pests, and "beeing" chased by the queen's aggressive bodyguards always in the main thoroughfare, I had to do something. The bodyguards hover and zoom into your path like crazed, buzzing mini-helicopters. They don't sting, but most folks don't know or care about that when they come upon them. The queen can sting if provoked.

I wasn't familiar with the Carpenter Bee and didn't pay much attention until it did damage. Which was hard to spot without searching, because I saw bees, but didn't see they were building condos under deck railings. They looked like bumblebees to me.

Unfinished or weathered wood attracts carpenter bees. They don't eat wood, but they quickly bore into wood to make tunnels to use as their nests. They like decks, eaves, siding and porches. Bee adults use their nests over the winter and pop back out in the spring. If unnoticed and left to their own devices, they will continue to use and expand the same tunnels or find new ones nearby. Can't have that.

First shot at it was waiting til Queenie left her hideaway, and fill the hole so that she couldn't return. But that only made her find other places to drill holes to start a tunnel to use to breed baby carpenters. I needed a non-chemical, but quick working eliminator due to the destruction that was happening seemingly overnight. I researched until I came across Diatomaceous Earth. I learned about it, then I got the type that has a squeeze applicator for the dust. It worked almost immediately. I also use it as a fungucide/pesticide on my trees, because it sticks so well to the surfaces and lasts.

 

So, what is Diatomaceous Earth, you might ask....

DE for short, is a natural substance found as lakebed deposits. It is made up of fossilized remains of plankton and such. It contains silica from shells of microscopic oranisms. Therefore, it's abrasive.
The microscopic silica shards are like teeny little knives. Diatomaceous earth is non-toxic as a pesticide. And I have found that it works somewhat on fungus types residually. Beats me why.

It works on all insects that crawl on plants because contact with the powder is extremely dehydrating. It won't harm flying things unless they land on/in it. So my direct hit method shooting the stuff into Queenie's tunnel entrance hole worked immediately, and no bees pollinating the garden were harmed during the process. I had no other choice but chemical, which I will not use. Therefore, I feel no guilt.

I purchased a bag of food grade DE on Amazon at a good price, and it comes with a plastic accordion squeeze container with a long tip for accuracy. It goes a long way. It's non-toxic, and the food grade can be used right up until harvests. It easily washes off. It shoots the powder as directed, without blowing back into your face. But do check wind direction when using. Best used on a windless day. It's not a dust you want to inhale. The powder sticks very well. I still have some on a surface of a tree weeks after heavy rain. But sometimes, it will wash off and have to be re-applied, if necessary. I have found it very effective against anything that crawls into/over it. The pest becomes dehydrated and croaks. Shot directly into it's hideyhole or nest, it makes quick, clean work of it.

I've had success with it on aphids on closed rosebuds and ants burrowing under my ornamental grasses. It can be, but I won't use it, on any pollinator plant flowers or leaves to protect my bees and butterflies.

I heard that you can apply it in a circle around plants to keep the slimy slugs away from crops and flowering plants. When their slimy bodies come into contact with the powder, the silica inflicts tiny cuts in whatever you call their skin, and the dehydrating effect of the powder causes them to lose too much fluid. After a couple of sneaky nocturnal visits to your garden, it's R.I.P.

Hydrogen Peroxide. A Natural Fungicide

Hydrogen Peroxide in The Garden..... Who knew?

After a nasty infection of I'm-not -Sure-What on my ornamental cherry tree, my choices were to either cut it down, dig it up and burn it, or try home remedies before the disease could spread. I opted for a combination of 4 things in tandem. 3% Hydrogen Peroxide was one part of that course of treatment. It appeared to perhaps be a fungus killing the tree from the inside out. After successfully eliminating, or at least controlling, whatever it was, the tree is healthy with lots of new growth where it's been cut back, and no ugly deformities present on the bark.

I have found success with hydrogen peroxide in many uses in the garden over the years, but I never really took it seriously until recently.
H202 is environmentally safe, and occurs naturally in rain.

And it is quite inexpensive. The "garden variety" (so to speak) 3% strength costs about $1.25 and can found just about everywhere you shop.

Be aware that if you use a peroxide solution of more than that percentage, it has a way different effect.
A 10% solution is a good weed killer. And it will definitely kill your prized plants, as well.

In my recent gardening experiences, I soaked plants with this solution around roots to destroy spores and such. I spray entire plants with a solution of 1 teaspoon of peroxide per cup of water in a spray bottle. I usually make a half gallon and pour it into bottles for spraying and general use. That would be 1 cup of peroxide mixed into ½ gallon of water.
In potted plants, if I suspect a fungus is among us, I water the plants until water runs out of the drainage holes, probably 3x per week until my plants are smiling again.. Hydrogen Peroxide will naturally break down and become plain old water.

My plants enjoy the solution watered at the roots in early morning or evening (don't do it during the heat and full sun during the day). I've noticed better health and growth doing it occasionally, not as just a medicinal cure for ailments. It boosts the oxygen level of the soil.

My peonies are a source of pride, but a source of aggravation during the summer after they bloom, when I seem to be cursed with powdery mildew. I spray the leaves to get rid of it. Along with any aphids who wander in. It's a good pesticide, too.

To make a spray to combat powdery mildew, mix 1 tablespoons peroxide per 1 cup of water.

If you haven't yet experienced or been tortured by powdery mildew in your garden, it will be easy to spot. It would appear as though you coated the leaves of your plants in flour. Some plants are more susceptible to it than others.

Note: I have not found it effective in curing the cursed tomato blight. It may work as a preventative for early blight, but I haven't had to deal with that issue as yet.

Remember to wear rubber gloves when handling hydrogen peroxide, and if you wish to store some mixed solution, store it out of sunlight to keep it from breaking down. As I mentioned, it eventually breaks down into plain old water. Sunlight will make that process occur much quicker. You may end up spraying what you think is a stored peroxide solution, but is only bottles of plain water.

 

Natural Fertilizers

©2020 marysbloomers.com

 

 

.