Something small and wriggly is creeping in your garden, intent on eating every part of your flowers and vegetables.
The destructive aphid is a small insect that rapidly reproduces many times a year. With an estimated 1,350 species in the U.S. alone, aphids can be found munching on various parts of your plants, including the stems, leaves and roots, according to www.hort.wisc.edu.
What can you do besides use a pesticide? You can fall back on a time-tested gardening tool – the beneficial bug. The “good” bugs eat the “bad” bugs.
Good guys can include ladybugs, parasitic mini-wasps (yep, you want these guys on your side), and lacewing. All you have to do is attract them to your garden with the right food. This is where the old gardening technique comes in. It’s called companion planting.
Companion planting simply means placing two or more different plants near one another to stimulate some mutual benefit, such as warding off pests, stimulating growth and higher yield.
You will want to add certain plants to your garden that invite beneficial bugs; in this case ladybugs, parasitic mini-wasps, and lacewing that eat aphids. By adding plants and predators, you are creating a self sustaining ecosystem in your yard. You want there to be a balance of aphids to predators so that the predators have something to eat.
Each good bug has its own specific likes and dislikes, however fennel and dill universally attracts all three bugs that eat aphids, so if you’re trying to limit your investment these two are a great place to start.
To attract Lady Bugs:
• Carpet Bugleweed
• Lemon Balm
Companion planting won’t change the eco-balance overnight, but once it does, you’ll be able to enjoy a much more fruitful garden. To learn more, check out FarmerFred.com for an extensive list of plants that might also fit your garden and its needs.