Friday, April 24, 2009

Beneficial Bugs

Today is Friday - an informative day. I have to say I am truly not an expert at gardening AT ALL - but I do know that alot of my plants are flowering and then not producing fruit. This can only mean a few things - one of which is a lack of pollination. When I am outside I normally see a few butterflies, some dragonflies, some regular flies and then a TON of wasps. I'm guessing what I need is some bees. This started me researching the subject of Beneficials bugs. 

There are lots of reasons you want these beneficial bugs in your I'll put down a few. 

They say to keep them around make sure to leave some bare area for them to tunnel in and make nest and have a shallow water source. I am not so sure I want bees to hang out in my garden because I have been stung by them and that sucks.

Lady Bugs:
Bug eaters!
I always thought they were just pretty and cute. My aunt from Spain considers them good luck. But now I know they are predators who eat everything from aphids to mealybugs to spider mites. I like them even more now - they are like Bette Davis - vicious and beautiful. 

Ground beetles:
Bug eaters
Cutworms be ware! Snail and slug eggs too. I guess you have to like them now too.

Parasitic wasps:
Baby makers
Truly gross they breed by putting their eggs in host insects and then the larvae eat the host bugs which are usually bad guys. How sci-fi can you get? I guess they are so mean because they grow up in dead carcasses. 

Syrphid flies: 
Bug eaters
The babies do the damage here - they lay eggs in aphid colonies and the babies eat them. 

Yellow jackets/hornets: 
Bad bug eaters (They eat: flies, caterpillars and larvae)
I have to admit these scare me the most and there are ALOT of them. So for them to stay they better do their job or those nests are coming down ASAP!

Aphid midges: 
I'm actually not totally sure about this bug but I think I need some for my squash - they look like little orange maggots and feed on Aphids. 

Pesty bug eaters
Ok not totally useless...they eat mosquitoes, gnats and some flies. Seeing as how I live in FL these might be my new fave bug if they keep eating the mosquitoes.

Brown Lacewings:
Bug eaters
Aphids, mealybugs and other insect eggs.

Spiders and mites:
Arachnids not bugs - but are bug eaters
Of course spiders are creepy but I don't mind them or their webs if they keep the bug population down. As for mites there are both good and bad. The good ones can help keep the nematode population down which is fine by me. Mites also like other decaying organic matters so they keep your garden pretty clean.

They say that you can buy the aphid midges, lady bugs, mites and lacewings from stores for grand scale farms - but I doubt my little place will need and/or hold that many bugs. 

I guess the best thing to do would be list flowers and the bugs they attract. I am not sure about your local type of plants that would grow - but this list will grow down here in FL and I am pretty sure you can find varieties for your zone. 

Angelica (my new purple flowers): Lady bugs, lacewings
Chamomile (just planted): Parasitic wasps, hoverflies
Morning glory: Lady bugs
Goldenrods: Lady bugs, parasitic wasps
Sunflowers/zinnias/aster: parasitic wasps and others 
Iberis (candytufts): Syrphid flies
Evening primrose: Ground beetles
Achillea (yarrows): Bees, hoverflies
Nasturtiums: whiteflies, squash bugs and a sacrificial crop for aphids (I may need these)
Petunias: sacrificial crop for japanese beetles, aphids
Gazanias/Calendulas (my new gazanias): sacrificial crop for aphids

Some herbs make for great Beneficial bug bringers as well.
Fennel/dill/anise/coriander: Parasitic wasps

More about the sacrificial crops at a later date. 

Tomorrow I am off to the Brevard County Rare Fruit Council Sale. I will be going with Andy who is apparently a fan of growing things at home and has been for a while. He says he's been trying to go forever to this show and I don't blame him. I'm hoping to pick up some vanilla and cinnamon tomorrow - YUM! The best thing about this sale is that they will have very rare tropical items. Some of these I know from living in SoFla and eating all the island influenced food but some are just crazy looking and I cant wait to try. Like the Grumichamas and the Pitomba

Most of these items are trees and grow very large - so I dont think I will be picking and of those up. :(  I am already wishing I had a farm.

Pics for the day:
From garden
From garden
Creamy Tomato babies
From garden
And the strawberries are turning red!

From garden

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