Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Natural Pest Control

The Katy apricot tree has one branch under seige. It's almost white with aphids. I thought I would have to resort to my favorite remedy for big aphid infestations, an oil spray. Then I went out to look at the branch this morning, and

It's a buffet for lady beetles. They have big aphid appetites, only surpassed by their larvae's appetite. Natural pest control, managing pests with their own enemies, rather than me imposing a solution.

I'm not certain that I can let the ladybugs handle all of the aphids -- it's a really big infestation. Instead of spraying with oil, though, I'll probably use my hands to brush as many aphids off as I easily can.

As my garden becomes more and more balanced, though, I should see fewer big swings in the pendulum like this. Instead, there will be smaller pest attacks, balanced with predators. In this way, the plants only sustain the damage they can manage.

And if I keep my hands to myself as much as possible, there may be even more beneficial predators soon.


Kristin said...

Amazing that you found those ladybugs the next day. Are you sure they weren't planted? How did you manage to catch them mating?

It's interesting too, that plants can live with a certain degree of pests and still produce edible food. The question is how much of 'a pest' can they take? (Parents may ask the same question of their kids' behavior.)

Stefaneener said...

: )

There are eggs as of yesterday. I couldn't stop them from mating -- apparently they take a while to manage.

I assume they migrated over in weird ladybug fashion. They were there before we carried larvae over there from other plants. Just amazing garden communication.

I still may have to do some remediation. Both with the kids and the aphids.

flacaknits said...

I am so inspired. Better late than never, but where to start? J.