Today people are more aware and concerned about the environment and how we treat our planet than they were 20 years ago. People are mindful of their carbon foot print, eating local, supporting farmers that practice sustainable methods and using an Integrated plant to control pest in their own homes any yards.
Mother Nature provided us with countless ways to deal with destructive pests.
Ladybugs, praying mantis, lacewing, birds & bats control dozens of pests,
Unfortunately with the use of toxic pesticides the chemicals kill the good bugs as well as the bad bugs, yes you kill the pests but you miss out on the natural control that mother nature intended to be in the garden. Along with losing your native ladybugs, butterflies & hummingbirds start to disappear as well.
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM is a combination of using less toxic chemicals, planting gardens that discourage pests and encourage and attract beneficial insects, and using non toxic baits and traps. Some people say IPM is working with nature, not against it.
The first step is to make your garden attractive to beneficial insects. There are seed mixes that contain the flowers that provide the proper habitat for beneficial insects and provide the pollen, honeydew and nectar they feed on.
These mixes should include seeds for clover, alysum, marigold, nasturtium, fennel, cosmos, coriander, baby blue eyes and sunflowers to name a few. Most of these are perennials so you enjoy the benefits for years to come.
The gardner should also keep an eye on plants that seem to get hit with the most pests. Some plants attract harmful pests. If this is the case, unless it is favorite it might be wise to remove the plant from the garden.
An important step in implementing an IPM program is to monitor the garden regularly.
Check on the overall health of the garden, look for signs of damage and the underside of the leaves for eggs. The sooner you start to combat the problem the easier the problem is to control. A strong blast from the garden hose does wonders to wash off the pests and any eggs they have laid. Pest like spider mites do not do well in humid conditions. Mixing a little liquid dish soap with water will kill most pests and will not effect the health of the plant and is safe to use on vegetables. This also will kill ants and cockroaches indoors.
If pests are present release beneficial insects. Ladybugs and Praying Mantis are general predators and add to the beauty of the garden. The Green Lacewing is another general predator that feeds on small soft bodied pests such as aphids, mealy bugs, scale and whitefly. The big advantage is Lacewing are territorial, they stay where you put them. The attack both the pest and their eggs when they are in their larval stage so it is easy to target specific areas that show signs of infestation. Beneficial Nematodes live in the ground and feeds on pests that spend any part of their life cycle in the soil like grubs, cut worm, fleas and bores. After the nematode kills the pest they lay their eggs in the dead host to give generations of control. As well as encouraging beneficial insects to your garden it is a good idea to put up a bird house to attract pest eating birds like the purple martin and a bat house as a bat will eat hundreds of mosquitoes per hour.
A little bit of common sense goes along way. Some of these natural methods may take a little bit longer to show good results but the benefits