Tending to your garden is ideal during the summer, whether you’re growing crops or want to make your favourite flowers bloom. But the hot weather can attract a variety of pests such as aphids who feed on vegetables and wreak havoc. Instead of paying for expensive pesticides it’s worth attracting helpful insects to the garden to defend against these intruders.
Damsel bugs are a good start as they feed on midges, aphids and leafhoppers. Collect them from alfalfa fields using a sweep net and release them into the garden to deal with pests. For the night shift, think about planting perennials or white clover to attract nocturnal ground beetles. They are a voracious predator who feed on slugs, snails, aphids and cabbage maggots. One beetle larvae can eat more than 50 caterpillars.
Ladybirds are also a popular choice because of their taste for aphids, with adults eating as many as 50 per day. You can attract them by planting angelica and scented geraniums. Be aware that adults are very independent and will likely fly away to your neighbour’s garden.
Assassin bugs are useful as stealthy killers, specialising in certain kinds of prey, from caterpillars to flies. Be careful handling them as they are known for having a painful bite when threatened. Green lacewing larvae are also worth keeping in the garden, being known as ‘aphid lions’ who stab prey with their sharp mandibles.
Using the right gardening strategies is crucial to attracting this crew of pest controllers. Start by making sure the garden is free of dust and soil remains covered, either with mulch or growing plants. Creating a habitat for wild insects is an ever changing environment. The best thing to do is experiment with different plants and finding out what works best for you.