Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"Good bugs"

Natural enemies, or "good bugs", can provide a safe, environmentally friendly means of suppressing pests. Predators such as lady beetles and lacewings consume many prey during their lifetime. Another important group of predators are the spiders. Parasitoids, which include many wasps and flies, are more specialized than predators; the immature stage actually develops within the body of a single insect, ultimately killing it. 
Some flowers are better than others for attracting small wasps and flies that are predators or parasitoids of pest insects. Flower architecture and insect morphology are important in determining what’s a good bug flower. Many natural enemy species are around as adults only for short periods during the growing season, so to be useful, pollen and nectar must be available when the adults are active. This is most easily achieved by planting a mixture of plants that have relatively long blooming periods that overlap in time. In the home garden, sequential plantings of dill, coriander, and caraway can be made to provide a continuous source of their valuable flowers throughout the season.

Good Flowers For Bugs
Umbelliferae (Carrot Family) 
  carawayCarum carviDill is a common garden plant with flowers that are quite attractive to natural enemies.
  coriander (cilantro)Coriandrum sativum
  dillAnethum graveolens
  fennelFoeniculum vulgare
  flowering ammi or
     Bishop's flower
Ammi majus
  Queen Anne's Lace
     (wild carrot)
Daucus carota
  toothpick ammiAmmi visnaga
  wild parsnipPastinaca sativa
Compositae (Aster Family)  
  blanketflowerGaillardia spp.
Yarrow is visited by many insects.
  coneflowerEchinacea spp
  coreopsisCoreopsis spp.
  cosmosCosmos spp.
  goldenrodSolidago spp.
  sunflowerHelianthus spp.
  tansyTanacetum vulgare
  yarrowAchillea spp.
Fabaceae (Bean Family)  
  alfalfaMedicago sativa
A clover flower.
  big flower vetchVicia spp.
  fava beanVicia fava
  hairy vetchVicia villosa
  sweet cloverMelilotus spp.
Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)  
Aurinium saxatilis
Sweet alyssum flowers attract large numbers of beneficial insects.
  hoary alyssumBerteroa incana
  mustardsBrassica spp.
  sweet alyssumLobularia maritima
  yellow rocketBarbarea vulgaris
  wild mustardBrassica kaber
Other plant families   
  buckwheatFagopyrum sagittatum
  cinquefoilPotentilla spp.
  milkweedsAsclepias spp.

(Note that many of these plants are considered weeds!)
Phacelia spp.

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