Carl Huffaker, an American biologist and entomologist said - "When we kill off the natural enemies of a pest we inherit their work!" The rationale for an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to managing pests could not be more succinctly stated.
Would you like to know a bit of IPM history?
After World War II, our population rapidly expanded. With the demand to feed our nation ever increasing, the use of chemical pest control exploded. These products were initially considered magical. But before long its adverse effects - from DDT in milk to the pesticide resistant pests - prompted a backlash.
Fifty-four years ago this October four scientists published a ground-breaking article about the dangers of pesticide overuse. It laid the foundation for a more sustainable approach to pest control. Scientists Vernon Stern, Ray Smith, Robert van den Bosch and Kenneth Hagen's unconventional ideas formed the basis of IPM practices which are followed today with only minor refinements.
Unfortunately, these four men would not live long enough to know how their vision would usher in a new scientific discipline and reduce the use of pesticides around the globe.
Scroll down for a bite-sized overview of some of our favorite beneficial insects and plants that attract them.
Gardeners' Guild Inc.
An Old Fashioned Methodology
Leave it to Mother Nature
The IPM methodology relies on the strategic use of plants that attract specific beneficial insects which attack damaging pests. You don't need to train them - they know exactly what to do. The trick is to recognize which are the good guys and which are the bad.
There are a number of sources for this article - among them is Mother Earth News. They have a wealth of information about natural gardening and classify beneficial insects according to the three P's: pollinators, predators and parasites.
Below are four examples of beneficial insects.
Many species of these tiny wasps lay their eggs in pests such as aphids or caterpillars; their hatching larvae consume the pest and kill it.
Plants that attract these wasps:
Most of us already know Ladybugs are good. Also called Lady beetle or Ladybird beetle, they are one of the most popular beneficial insects. Pests that Ladybugs prefer to eat are Aphids but sometimes they like whiteflies and other soft-bodied insects.
Plants that attract Ladybugs:
Lacewings like a variety of pests including Aphids, Citrus Mealybugs, Cottony Cushion Scale, Spider Mites and Thrips.
Plants that attract Lacewings:
Also called Syrphid fly. Adults look like little bees. But, they don't sting. What they lay hatches into green, yellow, brown, orange or white half inch maggots that look like caterpillars. They catch Aphids, Mealybugs and other pests.
Plants that attract Hoverflies:
- Queen Anne's Lace
- Lavender Globe Lily
- Edging Lobelia