Roots 'n' Shoots: Insectary: Beneficial Insects & Garden Security Force

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Insectary: Beneficial Insects & Garden Security Force

The Wildlife Garden - How to attract beneficial insects to your garden



Integrative Pest Management (IPM) is the use of multiple pest preventative measures, such as diverse crop planting, crop rotation, green manures and responsible pesticide use. Enlisting the help of beneficial insects is also used to control pest populations and improve crop production.

Insectaries are plants that provide housing, shelter and food for beneficial insects. They do not only attract insects to the garden, but provide an area for them to establish themselves and remain in the garden. Insectaries are great for attracting a myriad of wildlife to the garden, such as bees, butterflies, various other pollinators (wasps, flies and beetles) as well as predatory insects such as hover flies, ladybirds, praying mantids and spiders.

I have tried many of the artificial insect home designs, most remain unoccupied, even after being in the garden for two years. The only one that has been populated is House Wasp, see here for details. I have noticed that the insects prefer plants to purpose built insect homes and I have decided to rather make an insectary in my garden.

Several scientific studies have recorded the successes of these insectaries. Insectaries increase the amount of beneficial insects by 10-fold as compared to plots without one (AKA the control plot). Mortality of pest insects due to predation and parasitism was double as compared to the controls. The beneficial insect numbers remain the same, even if no flowers were present, indicating that they do not leave if no pollen or nectar rewards are present. (Ref 1)

One thing to keep in mind is that the insectary should provide food – not only pollen and nectar, but prey items too. This means that you must incorporate plants that attract pests (sink or source plants); also known as sacrificial or decoys among companion planting. If you do not provide food – the predators will leave. This also means no chemical pesticides!

Another tip is to leave the insectary undisturbed, with minimal pruning of the plants. There is a 75-95% reduction of spiders, parasitic wasps, ladybug adults and larvae in clear-cut plots when compared to strip harvest plots (Ref 2).

A successful insectary has the following characteristics:
ü    Plants provide blooms throughout the year
ü    Plants of varying size and height provide shelter for insects in different niches
ü    Is a long term and permanent feature of the garden
ü    Densely planted and interconnected by plants with little disturbance
ü    Provides small flowers for parasitoids (insect parasites), hover flies, wasps and robber flies
ü    Provides large and long flowers for butterflies, bees and flies.
ü    Provides sturdy herbaceous shrubs for mantids to lay their egg casings against
ü    Provides perennial and annual plants
ü    Diverse types of plants (usually 6-7 types)

Dill flowers
Mullein



















(Niche: Spatial or dietary condition where specific organisms are found, such as tree-dwelling, ground-dwelling, carnivore or herbivore.)

There are specific plants that attract specific pests. The best way to design your insectary is to known:
1)                  Which pests you struggle with
2)                  Predators of your problem pests
3)                  Plants that attract predators and those can act as decoys for pests
4)                  Cost and maintenance of these plants

On that note; here is a table with pest predators and the plants that can help:

Pest
Predator or Parasitoids
Aphids
Parasitoid wasp, Parasitoid midge, Damsel bugs (Nabidae),  Dicyphus bugs (Miridae), Hoverflies, Lacewings, Ladybugs (Ladybird or Lady Beetle), Pirate Bugs (Flower bugs, Anthocoridae), Baby mantids
Caterpillars
Mantids, Ground beetles, Paper wasps (Vespidae), Mud daubers wasps (Sphecidae), Parasitoid wasp
Eggs of pest insects
Damsel bugs (Nabidae), Parasitoid wasp, Hover fly larvae
Leafhoppers
Damsel bugs (Nabidae), Mantids, Spiders, Lacewings, Ladybugs (Ladybird or Lady Beetle), Mud daubers wasps (Sphecidae)
Mealy Bugs
Mealy bug ladybird, Parasitoid wasp, Lacewings
Pest
Predator/Parasitoid
Red spider mites
Predatory mites, Dicyphus bugs (Miridae), Ladybugs (Ladybird or Lady Beetle), Pirate Bugs (Flower bugs, Anthocoridae)
Scale bugs
Lacewings, Ladybugs (Ladybird or Lady Beetle), Parasitoid wasp
Snails/Slugs
Ground beetles, Predatory snails (Rumina decollate)
Whitefly
Dicyphus bugs (Miridae), Parasitoid wasp



Predator/Parasitoid
Plant
Damsel bugs (Nabidae)
Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel)
Dicyphus bugs (Miridae)
Digitalis (Foxglove), Verbascum thapsus (Great or common mullein).
Ground beetles
Amaranthus (Amaranth) or ground covers (creeping thyme, oregano)
Hoverflies*
Aurinia saxatilis (Golden Alyssum), Convolvulus minor (Dwarf morning glory), Cosmos bipinnatus (Garden Cosmos), Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace, wild carrot)+, Iberis umbellate (Candy Tuft), Limonium latifolium (Statice), Lupinus spp. (Lupin), Petroselinum crispum (Parsley).
Ladybugs (Ladybird or Lady Beetle)
Mealy bug ladybird*
Achillea filipendulina  (Yarrow), Anethum graveolens (Dill), Convolvulus minor (Dwarf morning glory), Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace, wild carrot)+, Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel), Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy)
Lacewings*
Achillea filipendulina (Yarrow), Angelica gigas (Angelica), Anethum graveolens (Dill), Cosmos bipinnatus (Garden Cosmos), Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace, wild carrot)+, Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel), Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy)
Mantids
Sturdy herbaceous herbs (Rosemary, Basil, Lavender)
Paper wasps
Aggregate fruit flowers (Raspberry, Strawberry, Dewberry and Blackberry)
Parasitoid midge
Anethum graveolens (Dill), Lupinus spp. (Lupin)
Parasitoid wasp
Achillea filipendulina  (Yarrow), Anethum graveolens (Dill), Cosmos bipinnatus (Garden Cosmos), Lupinus spp. (Lupin), Helianthus annuus (Sunflower), Limonium latifolium (Statice), Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm), Petroselinum crispum (Parsley)
Pirate Bugs (Flower bugs, Anthocoridae)
Helianthus annuus (Sunflower), Leucanthemum X superbum (Shasta daisy)
Predatory mites*
Helianthus annuus (Sunflower), Leucanthemum X superbum (Shasta daisy)
Predatory snails (Rumina decollate)*
Burrows in the soil.
Spiders
Structural plants – Our Sterlitzea and herbs (basil and rosemary) provide shelter and web support.
*Can be purchased
+ Flowers with similar structure: Ammi majus (Bishop flower), Anthriscus sylvestris (Cow parsley)


The table is a generalised list of plants to attract insects. It is the flower shape and structure and the specific species that attracts beneficial insects. Many small flowers in Umbels (umbrella shaped) attract predatory insects, such as lady bugs, hoverflies, parasitoids.  Most of the plants used to attract insects belong to the Parsley family (Apiaceae), for pollen and nectar, or the Aromatic herb family (Lamiaceae), for shelter and housing. Sacrificial plants include rue, nasturtiums, milkweed, marigold and the mustard family. Alliums (Onions, garlic, chives) also produce lovely umbel flowers.

Carrot flowers
Daucus carota


Umbel flowers & Candy Tuft
Note on parasitoids: Parasitic wasps and midges are good biological control agents that can be easily purchased for garden release. The problems with them are that they need specific temperatures and humidities. The wind will blow them away and they will fly away without attacking pests when released into the garden, which make them more suited to indoor greenhouse use than for the conventional vegetable garden.

Several plant species are better suited than others to attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. Yarrow, Angelica, Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii), Sunflowers, Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia), Rosemary (Rosmatinus officinalis), Basil (Ocimum basilicum), Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and Tall Verbena (Verbena bonariensis) are the most effective at attracting butterflies, bees, bumble bees, hoverflies and moths. I am not going to plant butterfly-specific plants as our area has a general deficit in these. Basil and Lavender produce flowers throughout the year, whereas Dill and Fennel can be planted in autumn and winter, and the Sterlitzea  and Aloes are late flowering (winter).

Sterlitzea visited by Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
So in my garden I have issues with aphids, whitefly, leafhoppers, scale bugs and caterpillars. This means I am going to try a combination of: Lavender, Dill, Buddleja, Mints, Creeping thyme, Mint-Basil, Alfalfa, Parsley and Fennel. I also planted a sea lavender, iceplants (AKA plakkie: Aptenia hybrid 'Red apple') and rose mosses (Portulaca grandiflora).  I have raspberries in the garden already. I have a range of other ornamentals and herbs in the garden that I do allow to flower for a short time, which should also double as ‘mini and temporary’ insectaries.

Remember that your insectary will also appreciate some pruning (3Ds) (during winter) and fertilisation (I think once a month should suffice).

The insects discussed here have already or will feature in Pest of the Month or Garden Critter of the Month articles; such as Mantids, WaspsLeafhoppers and Flies have already been covered. Otherwise you can check out my Pest Control page for some organic pest control recipes to complement your insectary and IPM.

Onion Flower
Allium cepa

- Note -

Before I purchased the Butterfly bush, statice (sea lavender) and rose mosses there were nasturtiums and indigenous edible flowers (Daisies and Marigolds) in there places. I plucked these out because they either didn't flower properly or I had to deadhead them every day and they used way to much water in my opinion. Hence why I opted for more water friendly, long flowering and low-maintenance plants.


My Insectary as of Yesterday (6 Dec). It has been growing since August.

Latest Insectary Resident


Which pests plague your garden? Would you make space for an insectary in your garden?


- Update 05 January 2014 -

If you struggle with getting any of these specific plant cultivars, I have found that the best way to get other alternatives is to check were masses of bees are in the nurseries or garden centres. A few winners are:

A: False Heather, Cuphea mexicana. These are small-medium bushed that can be easily shaped with white, pink and purple flowers.
B: Garden Heliotrope, Heliotropium species (likely arborescens). These are beautiful dark green plants with large leaves and big clusters of small purple flowers.
C & D: Butterfly Bush, Buddleja davidii. Wonderful plants with silver foliage and usually lilac flowers. New varieties are always available in nurseries, including a lovely white and striking magenta. They love the sun and are super water-friendly as well, suitable for xeriscaping.

Butterfly and Bee Friendly plants
Very similar inflorescence (arrangement of flowers)
Tiny flowers with lots of nectar = insect buffet

My magenta butterfly bush's flowers are open yet, will post once they do. Also, the butterfly bushes have lovely perfumed flowers.

Another firm favourite is the Mealy Sage or Mealycup Sage, Salvia farinacea. It comes in a lilac and deep purples (or true blue) and they have a delicate aroma as well.

Mealy or MealyCup Sage
Salvia farninacea

Some plants aren't readily available as seedlings, but their are some seeds available; such as

Verbena species (hybrida likely): Comes in all kinds of colours and are very striking in the garden.

Statice sinuata (Sea Lavender): Annual variety with long papery flower spikes that last forever as cut flowers (dry in vase without loosing colour). Also they come in a huge variety of colours. Another sun loving plant that is super water efficient. You might also notice them growing wild in the bushveld!

Or, you can just pick up a bumper pack of bird, bee or butterfly flower garden mixes.

Variety of seeds available for you wildlife garden
Statice, Verbena & mixes


P.S - Do note that if you want reputable vegetable seeds, then Stark Ayres seeds are the superior option, as for flowers, grab what you can get your paws on! J

______________________________________________________________________________

Please share with fellow gardening enthusiasts via the various sharing buttons at the end of posts/pages! Else you can vote for posts through the Google reactions bar at the end of articles. To stay up to date I have provided several reader and social networking platforms with which to subscribe: TwitterPinterestRSS Feed Reader or Email/Follow directly using the Blog Followers widget on the left hand side toolbar. Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask if questions arise - I appreciate comments and ideas too! 😆
_________________________________________________________________________________

6 comments:

  1. Very helpful info. What about alyssum, and some of the indigenous daisy-type flowers (magrietjies & felicia)?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am happy to assist! Yes I have tried the alyssums and some gerberas when I just started the insectary. I remember I ripped them out at some point and replaced it with the butterfly bushes. I remembered having issues with them as I saw very little insect visitors and some of them took forever to flower and when they did flower it only lasted 2-3 days... I should actually do a follow up post to this one as the insectary is about twice the size now, but basically I observed that:

    1) Basil still remains the 1# preference when it comes to flower visits by pollinators, sheltering (and provision of prey items) for predators across many trophic niches.
    2) Butterfly bushes support some of the indigenous butterfly larvae. This year I have a substantial population of the little 'blue' butterflies (Common Zebra Blue, Leptotes pirithous pirithous). It seems that the larvae feed on the butterfly bush, which they just about shred. However, the adults are more attracted to the wild clover flowers that I have as mulch (http://rsandss.blogspot.com/2015/09/natural-biofertilisers-living-mulches.html).
    3) The heliotrope and salvia plants don’t last as long as I would like – so they were replaced after they died off.
    4) The false heather is very hardy to the South African climate and when in full bloom it does attract a good deal of attention – it also fills out an entire pot very nicely.
    5) Lavender is also a very good flower and shelter plant for the insects.
    6) Most of the other plants and veggies seem more like stop-overs on the way towards the preferred ones (matids can roam throughout the entire garden).

    Hope that helps!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks! I only started gardening this year. Luckily I went completely crazy with the first patches of basil and coriander, so now hundreds of flowers are buzzing with insects. Will certainly try out the plants you have mentioned. Love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  4. My white stinkwood trees are infested with woolly aphids, and I would like to try the ladybird route to try and get rid of them. Is it a good idea to buy ladybirds to quickly multiply their numbers, and if so, where can one buy them in Randburg or Johannesburg?
    Thanks for the information about which plants to plant in order to lure them into the garden. Will definitely try this as a long term solution.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Unfortunately South Africa doesn't have a resource to buy biocontrol insects - ladybirds do have a habit of flying off before taking care of the pest problem if you do go this route. You can check out my ladybird post @ http://rsandss.blogspot.com/2014/02/ladybird-biological-control-garden.html

    Planting dill and fennel is a huge attractant of ladybirds, since the flowering stalks are attacked by a swarm of aphids, which in turn attracts the ladybirds. Luckily the aphids don't go anywhere else, whereas the ladybirds will move to other minor infested plants as well.

    For the mean time you can try one of my environmentally friendly pest control recipes @ http://rsandss.blogspot.co.za/p/pest-control.html

    Hope that helps!

    ReplyDelete

I appreciate any ideas & input! Sharing is caring :) ... Any questions are welcome too!

Support Roots 'n' Shoots

Did my gardening advise work?

Please pop over to the Support Page, where you can find various donation options to support Roots 'n' Shoots!

Thanx!
The Shroom
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Let your friends know!