BENEFICIAL INSECTS might be best viewed as miniature livestock. How do we keep them fed, happy, and reproducing in our farming and greenhouse operations? As evolution would have it, there are many naturally occurring predator insects which rely on a variety of food resources. By creating a biologically diverse farm system we can enhance biological control. For field production we suggest building habitat to encourage free biocontrol, and augmenting where you need to.
In field production it is strongly recommended that farmers do everything that they can to create stable, undisturbed habitat for beetles, spiders and other beneficial predators who will work to keep pest populations in check. Taking a wider ecological view, we would of course also want you to consider birds (swallows, wrens, robins, etc.) as very important aspects of your biological system. Bats would also be encouraged, as voracious feeders of flying insects.
Look forward to additional postings on this important topic, and if you need further information, we strongly recommend the following publications: Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control, published by ATTRA, and Attracting Beneficial Insects with Native Flowering Plants, published by Michigan State University. The Farmscaping measures that we like to discuss with farmers have many benefits:
- A reduction of pesticide use
- Savings on pesticide costs
- Reduced risk of chemical residues on farm products
- A safer farm environment and more on farm wildlife
For detailed information on each of the beneficial insects that Sound Horticulture offers, go to our Beneficial Insect Collection. If you have already identified your pest problems, visit our pest pages for Aphid Control, Caterpillar Control, Fungus Gnat & Shore Fly Control, Mite Predators,Thrips Control, and Generalist Predators where you will find resources and links to help you determine which combination of beneficials will best suit your needs. For application instructions for our most popular predators, download our release sheet. Please contact Sound Horticulture with any questions you may have!