When pests fly in and threaten our beautiful, blooming garden, often our first plan of attack can be chemical intervention. However, as it turns out, the solution to our pest problem may be the introduction of even more creepy crawlies!
While we’re all too familiar with the beneficial qualities of pollinators, like bees and butterflies, they aren’t the only insects that are great for helping out in the garden. And when unwanted pests come around, other bugs may be just what we need!
The Benefits of Nematodes
Nematodes are also known by the more common and entirely less appealing name “roundworms,” which is more than enough to incite fear and disgust. But, despite being a known parasite of humans and pets alike, not all roundworms are bad!
Non-parasitic nematodes are colourless and microscopic, and their natural habitat has been right in front of us all along—soil. The difference with these dirt-dwellers, is that instead of posing a health risk to our families, they attack soil-borne pests instead, like caterpillars, grubs, rootworms, gnats, beetles, and so many more. They’re even fantastic fighters against the seemingly undefeatable Japanese beetle!
As natural inhabitants of our soil, they’re also a great way to promote biological diversity that can increase the overall health of the soil. They help to restore the natural balance of our gardens, making for healthier soil and, in turn, healthier plants!
How to Apply Beneficial Nematodes
While nematodes may be naturally occurring in many soils, if you’ve got pests, there’s a good chance that you may not have many, if any at all. You’re not alone, though! With increasing endangerment of many different wildlife species, including nematodes, lots of gardeners are facing the same problem.
To help restore soil biodiversity and prevent pest infestations, we carry Attack Packs. These powerful packages come loaded with millions of hibernating nematodes, kept cold so they can spring into action as soon as they are applied. Once they do, they work to control a variety of larval stages of pests, as well as in-soil pests that are hard to spot and may be attacking the roots of your plants!
To apply, ensure that your soil is moist and warm, which will help to wake them from their cold slumber and get them moving into the soil quickly. If you have patchy grass, a great time to add them is as you’re re-seeding. This way, you’ll already have consistently moist soil, and you’ll already be applying the seed, making it easy to kill two birds with one stone!
Simply mix your nematodes with some water and spray or drench the affected soil, and allow it to soak in. Soon, they’ll set to work getting rid of your pest problems, and when they’re finished, they’ll die off—no cleaning required.
The Benefits of Ladybugs
We may know ladybugs as the cute little symbols of spring, but they’re actually a perfect example of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” While they may look adorable, ladybugs are pretty vicious hunters. They’ll prey on any soft-bodied insect they can find, making them a very easy pest control method—not just when it comes to aphids, but with loads of other common invasive insects. Ladybugs are aphid-munching machines, eating up to 50 in just one day and about 100x that many in their entire lifetime.
How to Apply Ladybugs
As with nematodes, if you need to increase the population of ladybugs in your yard, you can purchase them cold by the hundreds at our garden centre. We proudly carry The Bug Lady on our shelves, a Canadian brand with incredible expertise on the pest problems we face in our backyards each year, so we know their products work.
To release them in your yard, be diligent about keeping them refrigerated until you’re ready to let them go. The cold slows their metabolisms to help them live longer, and as soon as they’re warm, they’ll be ready to get to work (which can be quite the shock if you happen to leave them out on your kitchen counter too long).
The trick to getting the most out of them is to wake them up at twilight, which is when they’re naturally programmed to fly. This gives them a chance to get used to their new home and settle in before the sun makes them restless. Slowly sprinkle them throughout your garden, particularly focusing on any significantly infested areas, and be sure to spray some water over where you’ve released them so they can have a drink once they get moving.
In the fall, when you’re just getting ready to clean up your beds for winter, make sure to leave a little mess behind. Ladybugs can live for up to 3 years under old leaves or under rocks, and it’s important to protect those areas if you want to keep their pest-killing powers on your side for years to come!
If pests are pestering your plants this year, the introduction of nematodes and ladybugs may just be exactly what you need. If they aren’t quite what you need, though, we’d be happy to order in another kind of pest control just for you. Whatever pest is plaguing your yard, we guarantee there’s a bio-control method to tackle it. Simply give us a call, and we’ll get you started on a customized plan that will work you and your garden.