Not all insects are pests. Some actually make perfect pets for the gardener! They will not damage plants, only the insects that damage plants. This bio‑control is known as Integrated Pest Management, and beneficial insects are an important component.
We can make our gardens friendly to their habitats such as planting perennials that provide a place to lay eggs and give shelter – yarrow, fennel, daisy, baby's breath, parsley and many others. Allowing for a grass path will provide a home for ground beetles, and a birdbath or water feature with a perch of rock or stick will help keep them around during dry weather.
What you want to create is the proper balance by increasing the numbers of predators to prey and use only organic and nontoxic garden products like insecticidal soaps and sticky traps. Don't wait for a pest problem to be out of control. Plan for your good bugs to come to the rescue before the potential problem occurs!
Create a favorable home for your Beneficials ahead of time. Reminder: Beneficial Insects don't tolerate most pesticides very well, so it's very important not to apply residual pesticides (such as Malathion and Sevin) for at least a month before releasing your beneficials. While you're waiting out this month period, use soapy water sprays (such as Safers) or Sticky Traps right up to the day you let out the beneficials. Also, botanical sprays (derived from Pyrethrum and Rotenone, for example) can be used with a one week wait afterwards. The small amount of time you spend creating more favorable conditions for Beneficial Insects will be well worth your while!
Editor's Note: This article is courtesy of Charley's Greenhouse & Garden, via the August 2010 "ARS & You" Members newsletter.
This article was provided to the TVRS as a courtesy by the American Rose Society.