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beneficial insects for organic landscaping
Maybe not everybody knows that in their landscape, there are little, sometime microscopic, creatures that crawl, slide, walk, jump and role looking for the next insect, mite, or fungus to devour. These creatures are identified by the general name of ‘Beneficial Insects.’ These little heroes have been placed on Earth to maintain the balance of good and bad, just like another Marvel Saga.
Popular beneficials include Lady Beatles and Praying Mantis. Less common but even more voracious: Green Lacewings, Pirate bug, Soldier bug and Nematodes. Beneficial insects help eliminate and control pests that do a great deal of damage to our beautiful gardens and lawns.
Just like any wanted or unwanted landscape guest, beneficials are affected by pesticides, lack of water and lack of food, at different levels. Once the decision of supporting these natural predators is made, the use of synthetic chemicals need to be limited to very extreme situations. Plants that provide pollen, nectar and shelter should be a priority in the final design of the landscape itself. These beneficial insects not only eat pests, but help in pollination too.
Below are few of the reasons why it is worth going through the trouble:

    • They are safe and effective
    • No residue ends up in the watershed
    • They do not create chemical pesticide contamination
    • Re-entry interval is not necessary
    • They do not create resistance buildup in the pests they control
    • Their presence increases the biodiversity of the environment
    • The plants grow better since they are not stressed by chemicals
    • Public’s health and safety: including employees and customers
    • The observation of their activities can become a great teaching moment for children of all ages
    • Sustainable growing benefits for marketing purposes

Every beneficial has its own food preference, consequently, based on the type of annoying pest present in the landscape, the selection of its predator or parasite varies. For the broadcasting to be successful, the beneficials should be released when a pests’ density is not at its apex and some humidity is present on the leaves or in the dirt. Additionally, a little patience is necessary, just as it takes time for pest problems to develop, it also takes time before the beneficial insects can resolve them.
For over 10 years, Gachina Landscape Management has been releasing and broadcasting different kinds of beneficials. Aphids on roses and Scales on Hollies and Sago Palms are food for Lady Beetles and Lacewings; Mites on young Oak trees are feasted upon other beneficial mites; Grubs in lawn areas are devoured by beneficial Nematodes; another group of beneficial Nematodes takes care of weevils and other insects that dwell in the soils; Trichogramma Wasps parasite consume Tussock moths eggs, while the Tussock moth caterpillars are food for Soldier Bug (Podisus maculiventris).
While this practice was a rarity in the past, we are excited to observe that more and more customers are learning that there is an alternative to the chemical approach as the first option in controlling landscape pests. Choosing the right ‘beneficial’ is beneficial to the environment. Beneficial insects will take care of business organically.
Image courtesy of Cristina Prevarin, Sustainable Landscape Manager
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