In my previous post on this topic I talked about companion planting. In that post it was mentioned that plants alone rarely solve the problem. However, taking an integrated pest management approach using several earth friendly methods can go along way.
One of those approaches involves using predators. No I’m not talking about putting a T-Rex in your garden. Though it does involve raptors or at least birds 🙂
A common house wren was once observed feeding upwards of “500 spiders and caterpillars to its young during one summer afternoon,” according to the book Gardening Without Poisons. So why not invite a few birds to your garden? Hang some bird feeders near your garden and put some nesting materials in plain sight. Before too long you will likely have a ‘raptor’ in your garden.
There are other predators too that you would likely want to bring to the party, Toads, Ladybugs and Praying Mantis.
Toads can eat up to 10,000 insects in just three months. They aren’t fussy either their diet includes crickets, squash bugs, army worms, slugs, tent and gypsy-moth caterpillars. Two simple things you can do to encourage toads is to add a water feature to your yard or garden and provide a protected home for them. You can buy one of these or created one by simply turning a ceramic pot upside down with one side propped up to allow room for a toad to enter or simply reuse a broken pot or two. To learn more visit nwf.org.
Ladybugs and Praying Mantis although potential food for the birds and toads are themselves incredible predators. If you purchase ladybugs and release them in your garden they will immediately look for their favorite food, aphids. Praying mantis eggs can also be purchased and put in the garden. Once hatched the mantises will devour virtually any other bug that dares crosses its path.
Like the other predators mentioned these little creatures have a preferred habitat and there are things you can do to encourage them to visit (or stay). Gardeningknowhow stated “Ladybugs eat two things, pest insects and pollen. They need both of these things to survive and when these things are in abundance in your garden, they will happily relocate to your garden.” Growing flowering plants like cosmos and marigolds or herbs like dill or fennel can help attract them. As well you may consider “decoy plants.” Decoy plants are plants that are known to attract aphids or other insects as food for the predators. Like any other creature they also need water and shelter, places where they can escape larger predators.