Plants have natural allies against insect pests. It might surprise you to learn that these allies are also insects. Attracting beneficial insects to the garden is a non-toxic, safe method of pest control. Not to be confused with the bad bugs, beneficial insects share important roles in pollination, pest control and also help return nutrients to the soil by breaking down organic matter. These unsung heroes of the landscape will find your garden far more attractive if they have a comfortable home. Nature’s Way Beneficial Insect Houses provide housing specific to a species or larger homes to attract numerous insect helpers.
Natural pest management is actually much easier to implement than a planned spray program. Resisting the option to use chemicals in the garden can help protect beneficial insects, since most insecticides are not selective enough to determine which insects are killed. Spraying programs have been credited with negatively affecting our honeybee populations as well as the die off of other beneficial insects, such as ladybugs. Spraying also introduces chemicals to food and the landscape where pets and children play. The long-term effects of such exposure are an issue of some debate but are certainly not worth the risk.
The simple solution is to put out the welcome mat for beneficial insects that will increase flowers and fruit. Lacewings and ladybugs are two of the best friends a gardener can have when it comes to removing plant predators like larvae and aphids.
One of the biggest roles beneficial insects have in the landscape is as pollinators. A wide range of insects help pollinate our plants, which in turn leads to more flowers and fruits. Beetles, moths, wasps and bees are just some of our pollinating friends. The bees are the best known of the group and there are numerous helpful species. For example:
- Solitary bees do not live in hives and are gentle insects that rarely sting. Therefore, their pollinating activity doesn’t come with a risk.
- Leaf cutter bees actually pollinate 20 times more than the common honeybee. These powerhouses of the pollinating world lay eggs in soft wood or cavities.
- Mason bees nest in a similar way and can pollinate 10 times more than a honeybee.
Providing nesting sites for these hive-less insects will encourage them to stay in your garden and apply their talents to your plants.
Insect houses may be specific to an individual insect species or can be designed to accommodate several types of beneficial insects. The classic Better Gardens Bee House contains hollow bamboo shoots and cored softwood structures that make attractive nesting sites in which to lay eggs and rest. Several sizes of combination insect houses are available too, and are ideal for attracting numerous types of beneficial insects. The Better Gardens Insect House, for instance, consists of a basic design with four compartments to attract pollinators and pest managers. There are various sites for bees, lacewings and ladybugs. You can also upgrade to the Better Gardens Deluxe Insect House, a 5-compartment unit. Each house is made of rot resistant cedar and has an easy mount hanger.
Nature’s Way has made the use of these beneficial insect homes easy. Simply choose a location that is warm, dry and out of the wind. Ideally, the house should be situated as close to the plants you want serviced and in an area where beneficial insect activity has been observed. Hang the house at eye level. As with all good things, patience is key. It may take some time for your insect buddies to colonize the house. Check in the evenings when insects are no longer foraging and bedding down. If you see no activity after a few weeks, the location may not be suitable and should be relocated to another sunny, protected area of the garden.