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Create a Healthier Garden with the Help of Beneficial Insects

By Heirloom Roses
Images courtesy of Heirloom Roses

Every gardener will face garden pests at some point in their gardening journey. These annoying bugs, such as thrips, aphids, and mites, can cause quite a headache for rose lovers. It’s important to be on guard with a proactive approach to your garden’s health, instead of a reactive response once the pests arrive. At Heirloom Roses, we prefer to use beneficial insects as much as possible to handle garden pests before resorting to the use of spray chemicals.

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Photo by Thao Ngan Nguyen

Beneficial Insects in the Garden

Traditional pest control often involves the use of harsh chemicals that can harm the environment, allow pests to build resilience against these chemicals, and leave residual chemicals in your soil. We understand that with severe infestations gardeners are often left with no choice but to use chemical intervention, but with careful planning we can prevent infestations of annoying insects through monthly preventative care. At Heirloom Roses, we use beneficial insects each month to keep pests away and to reduce our need for chemical intervention.

The Best Bugs for the Best Results

While most chemicals treat only one type of pest or kill all bugs, good and bad, our curated selection of beneficial insects is chosen for its ability to combat almost all garden pests, as well as its friendliness to other pollinators. Our favorite beneficial insects are: Californicus, Cucumeris, Ervi, Colemani, green lacewing larvae, and parasitoid wasps. Watch this video to learn more.

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Bug Bios

Let’s take a look at what each of these beneficial insects actually do.

Cucumeris or Californicus:

  • Attack thrips and mites with vampire-like stealth.
  • Tiny but visible to the naked eye.
  • Part of the arachnid family, these six-legged heroes will clear the garden and can survive off pollen while they wait for more pests to come along.
  • Cucumeris thrive better in lower and more humid environments, while Californicus thrive best in hotter and drier conditions.

Ervi x Colemani:

  • The perfect bug duo of parasitoid wasps kill their aphid host every time, but are harmless to humans and pets.
  • Ervi search out large aphids while Colemani search out smaller species of aphids.
  • They lay up to 100 eggs in a lifetime and inject their eggs into their prey.
  • Keep an eye out for mummified aphids in the garden, as these busy workers will consume around 200-300 aphids in a lifetime.
  • These insects are great flying hunters that live for two to three weeks and move independently from plant to plant searching for more pests.

Green Lacewing Larva:

  • This is an aggressive predatory mite that feeds on a large variety of insects.
  • It consumes 200-300 aphids in a two to three week span with its fang-like mouth.
  • They aren’t picky eaters, so spread them out to cover a wide area and they will search for pests up to 100 feet away.
  • Their favorite snacks are western flower thrips and mites.
  • An arch nemesis of ants, these heroes eat the aphids that ants try to herd and hide their eggs away from plants so ants can’t destroy them.
  • When they start to fly, they are nearing the end of their lifespan and looking for a safe space to lay more eggs to reproduce the next generation of guardians of the garden.

Trichogramma Mix:

  • This is a mixture of multiple parasitoid wasps that specifically target eggs of caterpillars, including cabbage loopers, rose bud worm, tent caterpillar, omnivorous looper, and other worms and moths.
  • They lay eggs into the eggs of caterpillars, preventing the caterpillar eggs from hatching.
  • This type of wasp is harmless to humans and pets.

Together these beneficial insects provide a wide range of pest control thanks to their varied appetites and life cycles. They also promote a healthier ecosystem, not only for the soil and plants, but also for visiting pollinators, pets, and people enjoying the beauty of the garden.

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Why We Don’t Use Ladybugs

Commercial ladybugs are not a great choice for the environment. Non-invasive and invasive species of ladybugs are collected in the wild and kept in freezers until shipped. They are not farmed, but harvested from densely populated areas of ladybugs. Once they thaw out, the ladybugs fly away, immediately using up their fat reserves which normally would serve as their reproductive energy. This prevents them from reproducing and actually lessens the number of ladybugs in the wild. Also, adult ladybugs are not as efficient at consuming aphids as ladybug larvae. It is far better to naturally invite ladybugs to your garden through favorite plants such as marigolds, cilantro, dill, garlic, and geraniums, than to import them from elsewhere.

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Beneficial Insects and the Home Gardener

The consistent barrier to the use of beneficial insects in the home garden has almost exclusively been the high cost. Without the ability to purchase large quantities of these helpful insects, home growers are faced with either paying a lot or choosing the cheaper chemical options.

Our beneficial insect subscription service is a game-changer for home gardeners, providing a curated selection of four different types of beneficial insects, each tailored for a specific month of the growing season. Gardeners can choose a one-, three-, or six-month subscription to protect your garden the natural way. You can look forward to nature’s own tiny guardians arriving at your door each month of the growing season, right when you need them most.

Order your beneficial insects today and use the power of nature to care for your favorite roses with ease.

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