If you grow it they will come...

toastyturnipApril 24, 2014

I wanted to start a post to show off all the beneficial insects and other creatures starting to show up in our gardens this year. I sure hope some of these guys will help keep the stink bugs and caterpillars in check this year!

Tree frog on tomatoes.

Praying mantis egg case found on tree decoration.

Wheel bug nymph on bell peppers.

Another wheel bug nymph on tomatoes.

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My seedlings are pretty small still, but last year I was loaded with mantids, ladybugs and their larvae, saw a few wheel bug nymphs, and released some lacewing eggs.

Already saw a ton of ladybugs this year(no pic), and my beneficial "attracting" flower situation is in much better shape than in previous.

Here's a couple I took the other day though.

Green Lacewing adult

And an egg, just waiting to hatch to become a very hungry larvae

Glad to report, no aphids as of now!


    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:36PM
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Looks great Kevin! Where did you purchase your lacewing eggs from?

I ordered ladybugs two years ago and they annihilated the aphids in about two days and then all flew off to the neighbors yard. My garden size has since grown quite a bit so hopefully all these guys will hang around this year.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:55PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

:) I don't grow special plants to attract beneficials since I'm in the middle of many acres of diverse grass/legume/"weed" land, but I always love seeing the beneficials in my garden too. Lacewings and ladybug larva and praying mantises, plus insect-eating birds are some I can count on regularly. Recently I applied beneficial nematode that I did buy, and while digging an area I had sprayed I found some good sign that they are doing their thing! I've never been so excited to find a rotting grub before. Nice pictures, guys.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 9:36AM
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I am in Upstate SC and my garden is far, far behind yours. Wow, what a difference a few miles makes.

Great beneficial insects!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 9:38AM
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Toasty: Here's where I got them--- http://www.rinconvitova.com/

Did 2 releases about a month apart. The problem is... ants! If you have any at all, they'll sniff them out and make a feast in no time at all! Once they're established, they tend to do better since they hang on strands like in the pic(blurry). But, on the cards, I had to get creative. You can buy the larvae and take that problem out of the equation, but they cost more and, I imagine, need to be shipped very quickly. You should probably try to find a place as close to you as possible for shipping sake.
Here's another place I heard good things about --- http://www.tiptopbio.com/

I've released ladybugs in the past, but I have to believe the ones I see now are native. Where I noticed them most this year was on some stinging nettle that I let get out of control. It was loaded with aphids, but it was also loaded with ladybugs. Which is why i admire sunnibel's situation. Native plants are probably the way to go, but everything in Socal is so ugly, so i opt to go with the popular and easy choices like alyssum, marigolds, zinnias, wildflowers, sunflowers, cilantro and the like. Been meaning to get ahold of some tansy, yarrow, and buckwheat seeds. Just have no idea where I'd plant them. And there's always the water issue here.

The mantids, I'm not too sure about. They're indiscriminate, so they eat the good guys too. I let them go last year because they were loaded on my maters, but they weren't doing a good enough job. I get this thing called the Tomato suck bug on my indeterminates every year and they ravage my tomatoes. Supposedly minute pirate bugs and damsel bugs will get them but I've never seen any of those. So, I'm trying something different this year... Determinate Romas and semi-determinate Celebrities.

Love the tree frog! I live about a mile from the San Diego River, but haven't seen a frog in decades. It's just too damn dry here.

Sunnibel: Good to hear about the beneficial nematodes. been meaning to try those too.


Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato suck bug

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:11AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

These are from last year - busy increasing the predator numbers for me. You just have to hold your nerve as you watch the aphids start to appear - the ladybirds will be along soon and will start raising the next generation of aphid guzzlers.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:03PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Great shot, Flora, and I've not seen a ladybug that is more black then red. I agree about 'holding your nerve' when the aphids show up. [g] Just about the time I start thinking about whether to at least get out the hose and spray them, all of a sudden they're gone. I actually start thinking crazy thoughts, like maybe I need more aphids to attract more ladybugs. :-)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:42PM
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Agreed. Great shot flora!


    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 5:00PM
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Sunnibel, beneficial nematodes sounds like a great idea. Luckily the grubs arenâÂÂt too bad in my garden but are absolutely terrible in my lawn. We had an explosion of June bugs last year coming from them that wreaked havoc on my pepper plants for about a month.

LKZZ, it was my first year starting from seed and kind of jumped the gun on my starts. I've had tomatoes and peppers in my raised beds since mid March. A double layer of agribon on cold days and tarps at night did a great job of getting them going a few weeks early.

I have to second the great shot Flora! I agree, it is so very hard to leave the aphids alone long enough for the ladybugs to move in.

HereâÂÂs a dragonfly that showed up today. Found it drying itâÂÂs wings on a lawn chair next to the garden.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 10:14PM
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Woohooman, thanks for the heads up on purchasing the lacewing eggs. I might give it a shot later on depending on how bad the pests get. I've never heard of a tomato suck bug but it sounds like they cause similar damage as leaf footed and stink bugs. They caused quite a few ugly tomatoes for me last year until I finally just dusted the plants with diatomaceous earth. I'm going to try to avoid it this year since it's non-selective.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 10:21PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Yes, more great pictures! The beneficial nematodes were this year's "I'll try it" investment. The thing I hope to control the most with them is the onion maggot, but I got a mix that will help with ants, termites, army worm, various overwintering moth pupa (svb?) and sundry other things as well. I was pleased to see sign that they were indeed there, as they are microscopic and you just have to have faith they made it into the soil. I just spotted another of my favorite beneficials on the window-jumping spiders. I don't know why they seem to have so much more personality than other spiders, but I always smile when I see one.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 9:58AM
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I just learned that sunflowers are great traps for aphids. My artichokes always get aphids but have been relatively clear this year. I have tons of ladybugs showing up on the adjacent sunflowers. The sunflowers have a bunch of aphids on them.
Next year, I'll plant plenty of sunflowers and also nastituriums because they are great aphid traps,too.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 12:38PM
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Thought I'd post this great dragon fly shot I got last year - on a dahlia, not a vegetable, but I have a smallish yard, so anywhere I see them I'm happy.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 2:24PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I clearly need a new camera - and probably new glasses. One day I'll post something in focus;-)

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 3:39PM
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Never have been much of a flower guy. And I still have a hard time giving up garden space to anything I can't eat. But I have begun the whole IPM thing the last few years to combat the pests. And after the last couple years of seeing some of these flowers get swarmed with good guys when they bloom, I've slowly transformed my way of thinking.

No beneficial insect pics this time since they're so tiny and fly around too quickly to get a good pic with a camera phone. But, here's some PLANTS that you may want to consider planting to combat the bad guys.

A Wildflower mix(Poppies, in particular)

Sunflower(s)(a bit of Alyssum at the base)

Some Purple Alyssum

Zinnia(s)(more Alyssum at the base)

Cilantro(Coriander)-- This stuff doesn't flower for long, but it sure attracts a wide variety

Lavender and Purple Alyssum

Marigolds and Purple Alyssum

Bachelor button(s) and MORE Alyssum at the base --lol

Borage -- Need bees? This is the stuff! Should probably be grown in ground, but it self sows so easily that I'm trying to limit the invasiveness. Actually, an herb. Said it tastes like cucumber. Tried it-- Tastes like cucumber! Pretty scratchy texture though.

Some fresh mixed sprouts of Bachelor Buttons, Asters, and Cosmos. Alyssum from last year's pots in the back

All in all, I'm happy with my progression from broad spectrum pesticides to mother nature doing most of my fighting. Still not trusting the hornworms though. Going to keep up with my regimen of BT sprayings.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 7:12PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I have my herb garden right next to the vege/flower garden and have NO shortage of bees! (Even though there's supposed to be a shortage, or a bee die off, or something!) They LOVE LOVE LOVE the herbs! Nancy

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 9:08PM
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Good deal nancy! Yep. Love growing things that fight the pests and can EAT too.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 4:44PM
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