A Wild Spring!
For some of us, 2021 has been quite a year already in our gardens. Unexpected frosts, mid-summer-like heat waves and unusually dry spring conditions have left the plants in our gardens stressed and vulnerable to pests like aphids and others. Keeping your plants healthy is an important way to control pests who tend to dine on unhappy plants. Unhappy plants are those with too much fertilizer, not enough moisture, plants that have been sprayed with chemicals, or those that are dealing with some other kind of imbalance in the soil. These kinds of stress stop plants from being able to convert simple sugars (bugs love simple sugars!) into complex sugars which bugs cannot digest. Before spraying something on your plants, take a good look at your garden. Is there something you can do to de-stress your plants? Can you do something to improve the soil? Perhaps adding some compost to increase the organic matter and feed the soil organisms, or adding some mulch to help hold moisture in the soil during dry periods.
(image of a lacewing at the nursery, and lacewing eggs on butterfly milkweed)
And if you look a little further, you might find a ladybug, or if you’re lucky, a lacewing! These two beneficial insects eat aphids by the hundreds!
Native plants do a very good job of attracting these and other beneficial insects that will help to protect your garden from pests. We have been very fortunate (and thrilled!) to find several lacewings in the nursery this year. They need a little time to do their work, but they will not harm the health of your garden. And while they do the dirty work of finding and eliminating pests, you will have more time to care for your soil and enjoy your happy plants.