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Going Green: Good Insects Vs. Bad Insects

There are healthy and safe ways to take care of the pests in your garden without resorting to poison. Let good bugs take over and get rid of the ones that are killing your plants. It is better for the environment and better for you -- and they are easily available for order to be shipped right to you.

I've been looking at alternative answers for bug control ever since I sprayed for ants in my yard and poisoned myself as well as the ants. I was incredibly sick from that. So encouraging good bugs in my garden is a wonderful alternative. While I knew that you could buy ladybugs and earthworms by mail order, I hadn't realized that the U.S. Postal service was also carrying a bunch of other bugs all over the country. Here are some bugs you can consider using to beef up your garden pest security naturally:

Ladybugs

Ladybug Eating An AphidLadybug Eating An Aphid

These adorable little beetles are universally loved even without the wonderful benefit to humans through their voracious little appetites for aphids, scale, mealy bugs, and leaf hoppers, among other bad insects. For a few dollars you can get thousands to release into your garden. Follow the instructions that come with them to spray nectar and release at dusk to keep them from leaving the area. Some are bound to move on, but enough will stay to help your garden bloom.

Nematodes

NematodesNematodes

Nematodes are microorganisms that destroy pests that live underground. They will take out over 230 different garden pests including Japanese beetles, cut worms, wire worms, weevils, white grubs, flea larvae, subterranean termites, non-beneficial nematodes, and many more. You will never even notice that they are there. They are so tiny that you can fit 1,000 of them on the head of a pin and yet they do a lot of heavy lifting for their size. This tiny size explains why you order them by the million. Nematodes are compatible with other beneficial insects. They also won't bother your earthworms.

Green Lacewing

Green Lacewing (Photo by Lairich Rig/Creative Commons via Wikimedia)Green Lacewing (Photo by Lairich Rig/Creative Commons via Wikimedia)

Lacewings are rather graceful little insects that devour harmful insects beginning in their larval stage. While they feed primarily on aphids, they will also chow down on spider mites, thrips, whiteflies, moths, leaf miners, and small caterpillars, among others. They are especially helpful in protecting tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, sweet corn, apples, and strawberries. 

Praying Mantis

Praying MantisPraying Mantis

 Even though these insects are rather frightening in appearance, they are beneficial and will eat just about any bug in the garden except for the ladybug. They are said to be one of the best chemical-free choices for pest control. Personally I think they will eat anything since I once found one that had somehow gotten into my pantry and had apparently survived quite some time on half a package of cookies. 

Variety Pack

Variety PackVariety Pack

If you can't make up your mind on what to get, you can go for a variety pack. Then you can get a supply of ladybugs, lacewings, and nematodes and give them all a try.  No praying mantises in this pack since they are likely to eat the lacewings. Buying this way also helps you cover a broader spectrum of problem insects.

Other beneficial bugs include pollinators -- bugs that help pollinate your plants so that they will grow and produce. For these insects you can attract them into your garden by planting flowers that they are naturally attracted to, like sage for bees and a butterfly bush for the butterflies. If you are taking up bee keeping then you can order live bees to fill your hive.

Happy green gardening!

Additional Source: Wikipedia