I think that bringing about a balance between beneficial critters and the not so beneficial critters can certainly be done, in fact people are doing it all the time. I think that it just takes a bit more thought and consideration before acting, it takes patience and also a bit of creative planning or thinking outside the box. It’s easy to drive down to the local garden center and buy just the right pesticide for what is ailing you, but the long term consequences can be huge, while the fix is generally pretty short term. Once you begin using these pesticides you have to keep using them because you are completely destroying the natural balance, not to mention killing many critters that you never intended to kill in the first place.
So my first step in bringing about a balance has been to just sit back and see what’s going on in our garden and on our tiny patch of land. What is out of control, what seems to be missing? What can I do to bring in or attract the things that are missing?
We currently have tons of aphids for example. Three weeks ago they were so heavy on my rose and berry bushes I thought I might lose them. I watched for several days and did nothing. I discovered that we do have a few natural eaters of aphids here that I didn’t know about including; green lacewing flies, a green beetle that I haven’t been able to identify yet and some small green caterpillars that I also haven’t identified. So the aphids began disappearing although not quite as much as I’d like. I decided to bring in some re-enforcements…
Ok, I must admit this is not exactly what I expected when I ordered lady bugs. I knew I would be receiving lady bug larvae but I thought somehow that they would be larger…you know, at least larger than the aphids they were suppose to eat!
I have no idea what lady bugs cost in other parts of the world, these little guys cost me $24.00 USD for 60 flea-sized larvae. I’m ok with that, so long as they actually live long enough to establish.
Here is a closer look at one of these little beasties….
Aphids, be afraid…be very afraid!
The larvae came with a supply of small paper bags which the company recommends that you place the larvae, along with all the wood shavings, into. So I did…while holding my breath so as not to blow them all away!
I ended up with 5 baggies full of larvae and shavings which I clipped around the yard onto plants that had a good supply of aphids.
These guys supposedly eat about 100 aphids a day each (I assume that is when they get a bit larger!) and are much more voracious hunters than the adult lady bugs…but now we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I hope they’ll survive and become a welcome part of our little eco-system :o)