Biological Control and Pesticides

So what’s all the fuss about organic gardening?

Simply, the bottom line is by not spraying pesticides and adding herbicides on plants there is less poisonous residue to contend with in the environment and ultimately on the plants you want to eat.

So, why not use pesticides to control pests eating the plants or crops?

In a general sense pesticides will kill the insects for a time. However, over time the insects can change to be resilient to the pesticide. And this leads to creating stronger pesticides, which is releasing even more poison into the environment.

This may only lead to creating super bugs, and that has even larger issues.

On a larger scope, no inspects means no natural predators like birds and bats; lizards and frogs, and on and on. Keeping a natural balance of even our mini-yard ecosystem is better for the environment in the long run.

What’s the alternative to commercial pesticides?

There are many proponents of the application of biological control. With this approach to gardening, pests and disease control is accomplished by the maintenance of good health in the plants.

As an example of the easiest natural methods there is the manual removal of insects by hand. This is hard if you’re squeamish, but very helpful to the plants. Not every gardener, unfortunately, has the time to tackle this effective method.

Marigolds to repel insects

The use of natural insect repellents such as marigolds and tansy can be planted closely to the plants you want to protect.

Or there are natural insecticides like rotenone and pyrethrum. These are broad-spectrum pesticides that occur naturally in other plants. Both of these chemicals, derived from their respective plants, can be sprayed with less of a detrimental impact on the environment.

One of my favorite uses of biological controls is the use of ladybugs. Common ladybugs (Hippodamia convergens) are actually part of the beetle family of insects. They are voracious eaters of other sap-sucking insects, primarily aphids. But they’ll also eat bean thrips, Colorado potato beetles’ larvae, spider mites, whiteflies, mealy-bugs and chinch bugs, to name a few.

Lardy Bug on Snapdragon

Their typical meal of aphids can destroy a huge variety of plants in the garden. Aphids are small and live in colonies sucking all the juice out of plants. These insects would be pretty hard to remove them by hand. However, a single ladybug may eat as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. Very cool!

So while it’s blowing snow all around outside, think about this year keeping your garden pest free naturally. Ultimately using natural organisms which are natural enemies to combat insect pests and other parasites is great way to go. Plus, now you can say you’re a biological control whiz.

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