For a gardener, watching his or her vegetable crops being destroyed by pests is very frustrating. It is even more frustrating not to know which type of insects are destructive to your crops and which are the ones benefiting your garden. While trying to save your crops, you will end up destroying the beneficial insects, and your crops might not do well at the end of the season.
How to Differentiate Between Insect Pests and Non-Pests
Many biologists can easily differentiate a destructive insect from a beneficial insect that will help one’s garden. However, for the common backyard gardener, it is a little bit challenging to differentiate between the two. The common gardener might need photos and descriptions that will help him identify a pest. There are numerous numbers of insect pest species; therefore, studying and remembering all of them is challenging to many people.
Luckily, there is an easy way to differentiate a pest and a non-pest. All you have to do is attract the good ones and avoid those insects that aren’t beneficial. How do you do this? Below are tips on how to control these insects:
Tips on How to Control Insect Pests
There are biological and chemical methods of controlling pests. It is advisable to use biological means since chemical pesticides might destroy even the beneficial insects.
• Spray your plants with a mixture of onion chops and water. This concoction helps to control many species of aphids.
• Use a solution of buttermilk, flour, and water to control the spider mite population, which are mainly destructive on trees.
- Use a garlic solution to keep away many types of insects. Mix garlic with water, mineral water, and dishwashing liquid detergent; shake the mixture thoroughly. Spray the mixture on the garden early in the morning. You may also use indoor and outdoor fly traps that can trap flies alongside other flying insect pests.
- Wrap aluminum foils around the base of plants susceptible to insect pests.
- Practice crop rotation.
- Using insect parasitic nematodes.
- Use neem kaolin clay or Spinosad based products to control destructive beetles. You can also use sticky, yellow cards that attract and trap flea beetles.
- Cut down ferns growing in your garden and clean up leaves that have fallen on the ground, especially during the autumn.
- Make birdhouses in your garden for birds that feed on larvae and adult worms.
- You can also cover susceptible plants with floating row covers.
Tips for Attracting Insects Beneficial to Your Garden
Beneficial insects are insects or arthropods that help keep your garden in good health either by directly feeding on pests or indirectly forming a parasitic relationship with the pests, which eventually leads to their death. Other beneficial insects assist in the pollination processes, which is important for the growth of many garden crops.
Just like pests, identifying and memorizing all species of beneficial insects might be near to impossible, especially for new backyard gardeners. So, here are some few tips that can help you attract the beneficial species of insects into your garden.
- The Wise Use of Pesticides: If the need arises to use pesticides, look for pesticides that only kill the pests. Avoid using a broad-spectrum of pesticides or insecticides that will end up killing all the insects, including the beneficial ones. You should use botanical pesticides, and stay away from synthetic pesticides that do not degrade fast.
- Plant Insectaries: Insectaries are plants that attract beneficial insects such as pollinators. Plant flowering plants around or inside the garden in patches. The flowering plants attract pollinators who will feed on several types of pests. You should also plant short herbs, which provide ground cover to beneficial insects that stay at ground level. Some tall bushes are good hiding grounds for spiders and other arthropods that eat pests as well.
- Mulch your Garden: Mulching your garden will provide a home to many ground insects that like to prey on soil-dwelling pests. The mulch also provides moisture for the beneficial insects and a great hiding place for when the insects are not hunting.
- Provide a Water Source: Insects also need water to survive. You should provide a source of water that will keep the beneficial insects in your garden. If there is a lack of water in your garden, the beneficial insects will leave to another garden in search of water.
If you follow these tips, you can easily identify the good insects and bad insects. Beneficial insects will increase in population if you provide good hunting grounds, and in the process, the destructive insect pests will reduce in number.