Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Insects and a Healthy Garden

Gardening for wildlife can have its challenges. It requires a change of mindset to be less in control and let nature takes its course. Sometimes that is easier said than done.

When I noticed the sawflies on the hardy hibiscus I knew they were busy laying eggs on the leaves. I had to restrain myself from spraying an insecticidal soap on them because I knew soon...


the leaves would be covered in the larvae that would eat the leaves down to a skeleton. Sigh! The end result is not so very beneficial to the plant. Is there a predator who would please come and make a meal of these larvae?!


In another part of our garden the witch hazel is decorated in small hats which were created by aphids. A mother aphid laid her eggs on the leaves in early spring and created a gall around them to protect the babies.


Because you know who loves aphids and is essential in controlling their population...


Hello lady beetle!

As the aphids grow they suck a lot of plant sap to excrete the proteins. They then excrete honeydew which attracts other insects, mainly ants.


Letting all these insects support one another creates a healthy, viable garden;
and, is much less work for the gardener. 
It is beautiful to see the garden alive and working in harmony!

15 comments:

  1. We share a philosophy of gardening. It makes the garden a much more interesting place to see all the interactions between animals, including the insects and those larger animals that eat them. Most of my plants have holes in the leaves and most of them have a resident anole or toad there to feast on the chewers. In other words, my garden is a zoo!

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    1. You know you've become a wildlife gardener when you look at leaves with holes in them and think it is a good thing! Love your approach to your zoo!

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    2. Isn't that the truth - I love every hole in my leaves! Thanks for giving the insects a boost!

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  2. I wholeheartedly agree on the insects working out the territory issues. Eat or be eaten. I have not seen many insects in PA or here yet. I am wondering why they are late. I saw a few Tiger Swallowtails on the drive, but not much in any of the gardens I visited. I know at least one did not use pesticides.

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    1. I haven't seen many butterflies yet this spring either. I think it is partly to do with our cooler and wetter spring. Last year I had 22 black swallowtail caterpillars on one fennel plant; this year I only have one.

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  3. Insects are part of what makes a garden interesting. I never use insecticide, though I will occasionally remove insects by hand (Japanese Bettles!). Great photos.

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    1. Good for you Jason! I admire anyone who hand removes Japanese Beetles. I have too many rose bushes to do that. They are on their own but fortunately bounce back pretty well in the fall.

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  4. It's all part of gardening. I could do without some of them though.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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  5. I would have squished the sawfly larvae. I have some kind of leaf sucking insect attacking some of my plants but I'm ignoring it. A good bug will show up to eat the bad bugs and all will be well. If not, I can squish them, too. :o)

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    1. I did really have to exercise restraint on the sawfly. Happily I found two green lynx spiders hiding on the leaves yesterday and one caught a sawfly!

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  6. I share this philosophy, too. If the plant is being destroyed, though, sometimes I'll trim off foliage to prevent further destruction. I'm glad we have lots of birds because they eat a lot of the insects so they don't get out of control. I use beer to trap slugs and earwigs, because they are just too plentiful! Mosquitoes and ticks are another story...

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    1. Ticks have been plentiful the past two years here too. We also have chiggers which are terrible and the worst part is that you can't see them but you sure know when you've been bitten. They itch 10 times worse than mosquito bites and last for days. Have you ever tried any of the mosquito repelling plants?

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  7. Perfect sentiments Karin...the birds and baby birds certainly love these insects...and many pollinate or help propagate the flowers like the ants...hey move many wildflower seeds around for us...foreign invaders that no one eats like Japanese beetles I do trap as they are destructive and take over so native insects are pushed out.

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  8. Three cheers for the lady bugs showing up in your garden!

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  9. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I'm pleased I discovered it though, ill be checking back soon to find out what additional posts you include.
    מדביר ברחובות

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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