Attracting the Right Kind of Pests: Are Pools The Answer?

 Attracting the Right Kind of Pests

Attracting the Right Kind of Pests
 Attracting the Right Kind of Pests

A garden with plants and vegetables invariably attracts pests of all hues.  There are a number of irritating and potentially destructive pests to the home garden, including but not limited to aphids, cutworms, corn earworms, gypsy moths, hornworms, leafhopper nymphs, mites, root maggots, sawflies, sowbugs, squash bugs, thrips and tent caterpillars.  If left uncontrolled these pests, along with their other friends, can devastate a garden in no time.

Using pesticides to counter such pests can result in some harmful side effects to both your garden the environment in general, along with potentially leaving you out of pocket.  A far better solution is to deploy beneficial insects, which fight and consume such harmful pests.

A potential list of pests you might want in your garden can be:

  • Ladybugs, which feed on pests, such as, aphids, spider mites, and scale insects.
  • Lacewings, the larvae of which feed on aphids, mites, small caterpillars, and thrips.
  • The larve of flower flies, which feed on aphids
  • Predatory Bugs, such as ambush bugs, soldier bugs, and big-eyed bugs, which prey on corn earworms, leafhopper nymphs, small caterpillars, spider mites, and thrips.
  • Ground beetles, which feed on cutworms, root maggots, slugs, and snails, among other insects.
  • Parasitic Wasps, which attack the eggs of pests
  • Spiders, which feed on almost all insects
  • Tachinid Flies, which are enemies of cutworms, gypsy moths, Japanese beetles, sawflies, squash bugs, sowbugs, and tent caterpillars.
  • Dragonflies, which eat mosquitoes, aphids and other pests.
  • The praying mantis, which consumes most insects, including aphids, mites, and mosquitoes.

Many of these insects also benefit by sustaining the ecosystem as pollinators, decomposers and predators.  The moot question arises, as to how best to attract such beneficial insects to the garden.

The best approach is to have an insectary, or a garden plot filled with plants that attract beneficial bugs to the neighbourhood. For instance, low growing herbs like thyme and oregano attract ground beetles, as it offers them a place to hide. Daisies or cosmos attract hover flies and parasitic wasps looking for nectar.

A shallow garden pool, which would serve as a watering hole for such good bugs, is an integral part of an insectary to attract and breed good insects. Most bugs, including ladybugs, are attracted to water. Placing some rocks inside the pool would allow insects such as lacewings a place to land and drink.

It is a good idea to design the insectary pool with multiple separate small islands. Depending on the size and layout of the garden, an optimal design may have four to five sets of the same plant, in each island, and the islands interspersed to allow easy commuting for the insects. It is also important to position the watering hole pool next to flowering plants that attract harmful insects the most.

Some beneficial insects such as ground beetles burrow during the day. Moist soil helps such beneficial bugs from drying out. Watering the soil and mulching the garden bed helps to retain such bugs.

A swimming pool inside the garden attracts a wide range of beneficial insects, as well.  Spiders and ground beetles, for instance, are attracted to swimming pools in search of food and water. Spiders especially are able to crawl through the surface of the water. Lights attract spiders as well, and as such, a lit up pool is a welcome invitation to spiders. It may be a good idea to have a strainer in place to take the spiders and the other insects out before swimming, though!

It is important to replenish the water in the pools every two to three days. Stagnant water beyond this point may attract mosquitoes and other harmful insects.

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