One of the many wonderful things about Spring, and there are many wonderful things about Spring, is the fact that it’s bug season. Yes, bug season. Now, many people cringe at just the thought of bugs and they do so for many good reasons. Unless you are an armchair entomologist who has an affinity for the predators of the micro-jungle inhabiting our backyards, you may think this statement a bit daft. However, not all bugs are pests. Some bugs are creatures you will most definitely want in your garden.
Spring is mating and birthing season. This applies to many beneficial insects as well, including the king of the micro-jungle the Praying Mantis. Mantids play an intricate role in Integrated Pest Management, or IPM. IPM is something that all Gardeners should hone up on. One of the greatest benefits to employing Mantids is that they almost become like pets. From watching and waiting for the emergence of hundreds of Nymphs to the eventual survival of only a few, one can easily develop a bond. It is said that by feeding young Nymphs by hand, using cold cuts, you can train them to get accustomed to being held by hand. This author has found that very few seemed interested in processed meat but, for the most part, as long as you don’t approach them with sudden movements, they tend to feel quite comfortable crawling all over your hands.
This is also the best time of the year to purchase beneficial insects at a local nursery. Mantids begin their life cycle in a Chrysalis or ‘cocoon’. It’s best to place them around problem bushes in the yard. It’s important to get them fresh. Select them as you would eggs at the supermarket; you wouldn’t want eggs that weren’t refrigerated. And the same can be said for buying fresh cocoons.
You may be tempted to pick up a container of Lady Bugs at the Nursery for their prettiness. However, be warned that the majority of them will venture off soon after release in search of the same cool forest that they were previously captured in. There are tricks to encouraging them to stay, like using a sugary solution (mix of water and soda pop) sprayed directly into the container before release, so as to temporarily glue their wings shut. Once again the actual results may vary or prove to be an Old Wives tale. And while you can minimize a mass exodus if you release them around the evening, chances are, you will need to release a few more containers by summer’s end.
There are numerous beneficial insects to include in the garden including White Flies in the air, Decollate Snails who eat Slugs and Beneficial Nematodes who guard the soil. A multi-pronged approach can prove to be the most effective as pestilence often appear in multiple types. Some great resources for beneficial insects and Integrated Pest Management are:
And, as always you can rest assured that not only are Hormex products safe for use around our insect friends they also create an environment that is lush and verdant for them to thrive in.