Guest contributor, Mediaworks provides information on gardeners insect friends.
Encouraging insects into your garden may not seem like an enticing idea at first, especially if you’re trying to keep pests off your flowers. But you can ‘recruit’ some insect gardeners to protect and nurture your garden plants for you!
Nowadays, everyone knows the importance of protecting bees, nature’s first-class pollinators. But, which other creatures should you be encouraging into your garden? Alongside Dobies, retailers of garden plants, we present some creepy crawly candidates to settle into the leaves.
Pollinate and thrive
Bees and butterflies can add a splash of colour to your garden, but they also carry out a vital task. They are natural pollinators, which means that they help spread your flowers around the garden and encourage growth.
Selecting vivid coloured garden plants can encourage more bees to visit. Bees are attracted to these plants, as they source their energy from sugar-filled nectar and the pollen provides bees with protein and fat.
Just like us, bees and butterflies love a bunch of flowers! Cluster your plants together to entice these winged insects to settle in. Also, plant flowers that bloom at different times of year to encourage your flying friends to come to your garden.
Guardians of the garden
Some insects are a pain for your flowers. But some of them can protect your plants from infestations of smaller creatures.
Aphids are a common garden pest for many gardeners. The small insects, also known as the greenfly and blackfly, suck saps from plants and excrete it as honeydew. This sticky substance then falls on the lower leaves of the plant which can be harmful to its growth. Photosynthesis becomes inhibited and the plant becomes deprived of energy. In extreme aphid attacks, the insects can fully smother the plant — causing it to become stunted and weak, which leads it to die.
Ladybirds make the perfect defence against an aphid attack. It is the larvae from these bugs that are predators of soft-bodied insects such as aphids. Encourage ladybirds to visit your garden by providing them with a water source. Fill saucers with pebbles and water, this allows the insect to take a drink without falling in and drowning.
Alongside ladybirds, bolster your guard against aphids with the help of damsel bugs. They feed on aphids, small caterpillars and other irritating small creatures — helping your crop thrive!
Certain slimy visitors are definitely not welcome in anyone’s garden. Slugs and snails for example leave holes in leaves and feast on your fresh green shoots.
Keep slugs and snails away by encouraging a visit from a hedgehog or two. They are a gardener’s best friend, as they feed on snail, slugs and other insects. To encourage hedgehogs into the garden, leave food out for them. This could be minced meat or tinned dog and cat food. Although people think that the creatures enjoy drinking milk, you shouldn’t leave this out for hedgehogs. It can upset their stomach and lead them to become dehydrated. You can also leave areas of the garden to grow wild with piles of leaves and overgrown grass to encourage hedgehogs to set up camp.
Beyond insects, you could also encourage birds, ducks, and chickens to forage among your garden plants and feed on pest insects. However, don’t expect your neat rows of fruit and vegetables to stay that way!