Friend or foe? Know your garden bug

Reporter:

admag reporter

WHATEVER kind of garden you have, you need to get rid of unwanted guests.

But you don’t need to work on the principle of killing everything. 

You don’t want to get rid of the garden-friendly predators – nature’s own method of dealing with pests.

This type of bug control is part of the overall return to more natural methods of cultivation which has been escalating in recent years. 

More and more people are turning to growing their own organic food rather than just making a selection from supermarket shelves.

Helpful: Ladybirds are a greenfly’s worst nightmare but a gardener’s best friend.


Gardeners’ friend - the lethal ladybird

  • Ladybirds eat aphids, mealy bugs, thrips and mites
  • A crawling ladybird grub can eat 50 aphids a day
  • Ladybird beetles hibernate in winter in their hundreds
  • Females lay about 200 eggs on the undersides of aphid-infested plants

Organic gardening, whether it’s food or flowers you are growing, is aimed at getting back to a balance in nature. 

Plants are more robust when they are grown in soil kept well fed with organic manure. The use of quick-acting fertilisers induces soft growth which easily becomes the target of many enemies.

Instead of using chemicals which can kill off too many insects, selective use of predators helps, as does using the right plants.

There are many friendly creatures about – the most useful in the garden being bees, whose activities encourage pollination.

And if you thought wasps were the most pesky creatures invented, think again – they actually have a use because they eat greenfly.

Toads, frogs and hedgehogs are our allies. They destroy a number of harmful creatures like slugs and snails. 

The centipede is another friend. With a rather flat light brown body, it moves very quickly and should not be confused with the harmful millipedes which are either a slate grey or darkish brown colour and very sluggish.

Of the flying insects, the ladybird is one of the gardener’s best friends. Both the familiar spotted adult beetles and the tiny rather alligator-like larvae destroy countless numbers of greenfly.

In the greenhouse, a small wasp called encarsia formosa, will keep whitefly at bay if introduced before the problem gets too big. 

Another problem, the damaging red spider mite, can be helped by a bug called phytoseiulus persimilis which eats five adults or 20 young mites in a day.

These two have to be introduced to the greenhouse annually and can usually be bought by mail order – your local garden centre should be able to help you.

Try plants too, nasturtiums help repel whitefly while garlic, tagetes and marigolds discourage greenfly.

And where possible when you buy any kind of plants or seeds, make sure they are healthy and purchase the ones that are bred to be resistant to common pests and diseases.

See full story in the Leader

Leave your comment

Share your opinions on

Characters left: 1500

Most Read