Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Pest Management part 1, TSP part 10

Pest management in Organic Systems requires a leap of faith.  Again, it is not surprising that soil health and conservation management are the main ingredients to managing pests.  Not all bugs and organisms are problems with crops and the more a person enhances their environment the more beneficial bugs and organisms move in to help the gardener/farmer with pest control.  Even chemical herbicides will not totally eliminate the destruction of enemies to your money crop.

Consider nature without the intervention of man.  The prairie grasses, grains and fruit tress fared well in the world before man started manipulating the environment for his own needs.  Organic methods simply advocate a return to nature; mimicking a natural environment for the benefit of your crop and in turn creates an environment that helps greenhouse gases, nutrition, pest management and the pocket book.  It is a Win Win.

One of the easiest ways to start off the process is to add winter cover crops to your garden.  These crops nourish your garden/fields, and can create over winter habitat for beneficial insects and animals.

As with weed management, identifying the pest is the first step.  Once you have identified the pest (destructive bug), identify it’s enemy (beneficial insect) and what the habitat is of the beneficial insect.  Add the beneficial habitat and watch for the results.

Many parts of the nation have aphid problems.  If you do, then identify the predator that eats them.  One such predator is the lady bug beetle.  You can buy a source of lady bugs or encourage them to stay year after year by creating habitat for them to stay in.  Ladybugs like woody areas, sticks, tall stands of grass or maybe that winter rye you just planted for a cover crop.  The tall ornamental grasses, instead of cutting them back for the winter leave them alone to create a safe haven for your over wintering bugs.

Lacewing are similar to lady bugs in what they devour and over winter in similar ways. Lacewings like Asters, cosmos, sunflowers, flowering dill and cilantro.  Lacewings also dine on aphids and other small larva.  Insects like ladybug and lacewings enjoy a snack of pollen related flowers that are small, flowers with small to no petal area with large pollen areas like the sunflower.

Wasps are another great garden guest.  The parasitic wasp will lay their eggs in larva and insects.  The eggs hatch and eat the larva from the inside out.  If you can keep a mud available to the mud dauber wasp they catch insects to feed to their young. Other wasp types like the small flowers.

Colorado State University, extension, beneficialinsects and other arthrodos.

Smaller flowers such as the alysum attract smaller insects such as syrphid flies to pollinate crops and are planted in rows around lettuces to help control aphids see cover crop alyssumIn the picture are 3 rows of flowers to every 20 rows of lettuce.  Syrphid flies plant one or two eggs per plant, so they inoculate a large field of lettuce with aphid eating helpers.

Greater diversity of a complex landscape, higher percent of woody or herbaceious plants support a greater number of spiders…says carol O’meara of Colorado State University

Wheat fields in Germany with mulch created a habitat for spiders which reduced the cereal aphid population by 25%.

Spider are a great advantage to your crops and you can also change pest behavior, called spider caused abandonment, which causes cucumber beetles, Japanese beetles, moth and butterfly larva, leaf hoppers, plant hoppers to abandon that plant if they detect spiders.  Spiders kill more insects than then consume.

You will have more pests in un managed weedy areas but managed hedge rows and native perennials will inhabit more beneficial insects. Native annual and native perennial are more than likely to host beneficial insects where un managed weeds may be invasive weeds that attract pests.

See it in action on Pinterest.  Here I am creating a pictorial of plants and their benefits and how farmers are incorporating these plants into their crops or creating hedge rows to harbor the beneficials

There are tools available to predict flowering periods of native insectary plants in Missouri

Do a search on (State) native insectary plants for your state.

Pest management will continue in Part Two.

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