Neshali's Blog

Bug Me

Who-oo really are those creepy crawlers in your garden?

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Yes, some may be hairy, and others ugly, but we shouldn’t be so quick to fear and hate our garden bugs.  I mean, we have all woken up some mornings looking pretty scary and we aren’t such bad people.  Neither are the critters in our garden.  Yes, there are many that eat our flowers and hurt our veggies (ie. slugs, spider mites, and aphids), but instead of using nasty pesticides that really hurt our environment, there are tons of insects that you can recruit to help protect your turf.  So, instead of looking at all bugs as frightening pests, just look at them as your backyard-version of hairy, ugly, but lovable roommates; they may scare you at times, but at the end of the day they help you out and you are so glad to have them around!

Below is a list of some helpful bugs.  These bugs can be attracted to your garden by the plants you choose to grow (more about this in my next blog entry, but if you can’t wait, your local gardening store workers will be sure to know!).  They can also be purchased at many gardening stores and online.

Helpful Critters:
* Ladybugs/ Ladybird Beeltes (Coccinellidae): Each one of these wonderful beetles are said to eat as many as 5,000 aphids during their adult life!  They also feed on a ton of other soft-bodied insects and their eggs, such as chinch bugs, whiteflies, and mites. Then, the female adults will lay as many as 3-4 dozen eggs each day, which will hatch and consume around 50 aphids a day until they become adults in 21 days. You can't go wrong with that kind of math!
* Crypts (Cryptolaemus Montrouzieri): These beetles are a type of ladybug, that look like your common ladybug, only darker and will help if mealybugs are driving you crazy.  A great way to get immediate results is to place the eggs on the infested plant, so that the larvae can feed on the undesirable bugs as soon as possible.  Unfortunately, most places only sell them as adults, but they definetly munch on your pests too.
* Beneficial Nematodes: These are microscopic worms, which hunt many of the pests that live beneath the soil, like grubs, fleas, cutworms and webworms. There are several types of nematodes available and each target specific pests, so make sure to get the right species for the job.  How and when you release them into your garden is important, so make sure to check out Calvin's blog entry about it!
* Aphid Lions (Green Lacewings Larvae): Aphid lions are veracious feeders of aphids, spider mites, mealybug crawlers, immature whiteflies and caterpillar eggs. If you plan on purchasing them, make sure you are getting them in the egg or larvae stage because they are big bug eaters only in their immature stage.  Place them near the insect problem, but you have to be careful not to place too many in a limited area, because they are known to become cannibalistic. 

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* Predator mites: They are great at controlling spider mites, which can be commonly found indoors as well as in the garden. They are purchased as adults and will eat 1-3 adult mites or up to 6 mite eggs each day! There are many species, so you need to know which type of mites you have, so you know the right type of predator mites to purchase.
* Trichogramma wasps: Last but not least, these are tiny wasps which are parasites of the eggs of more than 200 types of moths and caterpillars. They lay their eggs directly inside the eggs of the pests in your garden, killing the eggs as they hatch. As soon as the wasps mature, they will fly off in search of new eggs to parasitize. An important thing to note about these guys is that there are many different species of Trichogramma wasps and some are more effective against certain pests, so purchase eggs appropriate for the pests. which have invaded your garden.

Comments (7)

The parasitic nematodes used for slug control are only available in the UK, not in the United States at this time.

Suzanne AKA Buglady replied to Neshali | August 12, 2009 at 2:59 PM

I have been using seaweed. I retrieve a bag of dried and washed up seaweed from the beach, cut it up and sprinkle around veggies that I don't want slugs. I have noticed a significant difference. You don't need to wash off the salt and it acts as an organic mulch. Let me know if it works for you. Cylia


Cylia | July 18, 2009 at 7:36 AM

More about fighting slugs with bugs! -

Parasitic Nematodes, which I mentioned above will help stops slugs feeding on your garden pretty quickly. Sprays containing nematodes are commercially available.

Neshali replied to Michelle | July 8, 2009 at 9:59 PM

Michelle,

Really good question; we have the same problem with slugs! My dad says they usually become a problem when you buy plants from garden stores, because that's usually how a lot travel into your garden.

We use egg shells to stop slugs. Check out: http://www.naturechallenge.org/dmg09/neshali/eggs_coffee.html

My dad has also put ash from our fire pit in the places where slugs are found, which they hate and this has been working for us too. So, if you have a fire pit or fire place a great thing to do is to recycle it in your garden.

There is another trick that I've heard really works, but have never actually tried. If you do try it out, I'd love to know how it turns out! You are supposed to use plastic containers such as yogurt or margarine tubs or low pie tins baited with fresh beer. You don't need much, enough to fill an inch, so make sure to enjoy the rest. The slugs are attracted to beer (much like people; we have lots in common) and they will fall in and be trapped. Once you catch a bunch of slugs you need to dump out the brew and refill it with more fresh beer (drinking the rest each time, of course... seems like a win/win situation).

Good luck and keep me posted!

Let me know how it goes!

Neshali replied to Michelle | July 8, 2009 at 9:45 PM

I like the concept - fight bugs with bugs, but what can I do about slugs. My neighbours and I are all overrun with them (and in Calgary believe it or not.) I can fill a jam jar a day without even digging for them.

Michelle | July 8, 2009 at 12:47 PM

Ryan thought it was really weird I was reading about bugs. But it's a good idea. Fight bugs with bugs! Ingenious!

-Tamara

Tamara | July 6, 2009 at 4:26 PM

Ah the wonders of biological control! Food chains at their finest!

Camille | July 5, 2009 at 10:53 PM