From the Vegetable Patch
How to use insects as garden helpers
I've noticed there are a lot more bugs and insects in my backyard than there used to be. Bees, wasps and impressive looking spiders. I assume that's because:
- We don’t used any pesticides outside the house.
- Our garden is growing and expanding, providing a natural habitat for insects.
But the truth is I’m scared of spiders. They are creepy, hairy, bite and are sometimes poisonous. And when I see a wasp, I get out of the way quick smart. So I can see why it's tempting to get your house sprayed for insects - especially with young kids running around the backyard.
But I also think spiders and wasps are the best thing ever! That’s because they're a predator to destructive insects (like the ones that munch through your lettuce leaves), helping to keep these ‘pests’ under control.
One of the problems with insect spray is that it kills both the good and bad insects, throwing the system out of balance. And it's always the pests that come back far quicker than their natural predators.
As I talk about in my food manifesto, the trick is to work with natural systems and use natures own defences to your advantage.
“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” – Charles Darwin
On top of the benefits to your garden, providing a safe haven for bugs can help the world avert an insect Armageddon.
So what can you do to encourage beneficial insects into your backyard? Here are some tips from buglife.org.uk
- Grow flowers for bees (Flowering herbs are any easy one)
- Create bug homes
- Insects need water, so creating a pond is one of the best things you can do for insects
- Let weeds like white clover grow in your lawn
- Put away the pesticides
- Leave wasps nests and spiders alone