Garden Pest Control

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Garden Friends

There’s often a frustrating lag between the appearance of pests, like aphids, and their natural predators, such as ladybirds, lacewings and hoverfly larvae. So, don’t be too quick to reach for insecticides, as killing off natural predators’ food sources may drive them away. Chemical pesticides also kill friendly bugs, as well as unwanted insects. Simple, open nectar-rich flowers, such as blanket flower (Gaillardia), are a magnet to bees and hoverflies, which appreciate an easy meal.

Blanket Flowers Attract Bees and HoverfliesEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Indentifying Predators

It is important to recognize the chief insect predators; they are often the larvae of more familiar adults, like ladybugs and hoverflies, but some are quite different in appearance. By knowing what these larvae look like, you will be less likely to confuse them with pests, and may be able to move them to badly infested plants. Some predators hide under leaf litter and bark mulch, and are invisible during the day, actively feeding at night. One example is ground beetles, which attack slugs. Visit internet websites to identify mystery bugs or try ask the experts at your garden center.

Encourage Friendly Beasts

Lure beneficial insects into your garden by providing hibernation sites, such as a log pile, and simple flowers, which attract nectar-feeding types. Grow leafy ground cover to shelter slug-munching frogs and toads, and add a small pond with grassy margins. Delay cutting herbaceous plants till spring for winter cover, and provide food, water, and nesting sites for birds.

Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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