Integrated Pest Management FESTYLE?Titleºckyard-bugs
Backyard bugs They're not all pests; having a vibrant insect community is key to a healthy garden
Nature is filled with ³good bugs,² crawling and flying creatures that eat garden pests. The good bugs ‹ a ladybug being an example ‹ and the plants they like for shelter and food can be seen at Benziger Winery¹s demonstration insectary garden.
Published: Friday, July 10, 2009 at 3:00 a.m. Last Modified: Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 4:17 p.m. As any public works director knows, the health and functionality of a city depends on good planning and infrastructure. LURING THE GOOD BUGS Some Plants in Benziger Insectary that Attract Predator (Good) Bugs Moonshine Yarrow ‹ Achillea millefolium Blue Catmint ‹ Nepeta Prairie Coneflower ‹ Ratibida pinnata Russian Sage ‹ Petrovskia Blackeyed Susan, Gloriosa Daisy ‹ Rudbeckia Purple Coneflower ‹ Echinacea purpurea Monch ‹ Aster rikartii Queen Anne¹s Lace ‹ Daucus carota Dandelion ‹ Taraxacum Angelica Santa Barbara Daisy (AKA Mexican Daisy)‹ Erigeron karvinskianus
GOOD COPS Ladybugs Soldier Beetles Western predatory mites Red predatory mites Green Lacewings Hoverflies (AKA syrphid fly) Parasitic mini-wasps
BAD GUYS Glassy-winged sharpshooter Western flower thrip Black aphids White flies Leaf hoppers
And so it is with a healthy garden. When deciding what to plant and where, think like a city planner. You don¹t want only awe-inspiring architecture, parks and candy stores.
Who will inhabit your garden? What kind of residents do you want to attract to your new community? If you answered bugs, bees, bats, butterflies and birds, you¹re on the right track. And just as you would in a real city, you¹ll need to provide the equivalent of housing developments for shelter, supermarkets for healthy eating and reservoirs of water for drinking and cleaning. And don¹t forget, any safe city needs strong law enforcement.
There are more than 50 types of plants in the insectaries, represented by three main families of plants: sunflowers, carrots and legumes. All provide both food and shelter for the insects the winery needs to provide the right balance of predator and prey.
A gently winding path leads through a forest of tall and densely packed plants and grasses. Moonshine yarrow, Russian sage, euphorbia, and gracefully waving stalks of Miscanthus (ornamental grasses) beckon beneficial critters like ladybugs, assassin bugs, lacewings, syrphid flies, minute pirate bugs and parasitic wasps, said Colby Eierman, the former director of the gardens at Copia who has overseen Benziger¹s insectaries for the past 18 months.
These predators in turn, will go after the vineyard pests. For instance, the short-bodied green lacewings will eat aphids, said Eierman, who grew up not far away on Sonoma Mountain and has a degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon. But they also will dine on white flies, thrips and mites, all destructive to grapevines. Good bugs also are soldier beetles, Western predatory mites and red predatory mites.
These beneficial insects will go after glassy-winged sharpshooters, the western flower thrip, black aphids, white flies and leaf hoppers. ³All of these guys for the most part are taking nutrients away from the plants. They¹re a lot of sucking insects,² Eierman said. Consider aphids. They gather on the underside of leaves ³and suck the nutrients right out of the veins of the plant like a vampire,² he added.
Certain plants do attract specific beneficials. So when planning any organic garden, you want to know what pests the plants you choose might draw, and then select other plants that will attract the right predators.
For instance, Queen Anne¹s Lace attracts lacewings. Dandelions draw ladybugs. Hoverflies dine on Gloriosa daisies.
The whole concept is built on the premise put forth in the concept, ³If you build it, they will come.² That means, said Eierman, creating many well-planned communities of insect-friendly plants connected by corridors or ³bug highways² of additional plants that enable the bugs to get around easily with places to alight.
³You build these threads of habitat for those insects to get out into the vineyard because they don¹t travel as far as you¹d like them to,² he explained. ³You have to think about the vineyard a little differently and build that infrastucture so they can get around, like a highway system.²
That same principle can be applied in any backyard setting. You want not only to mass plants that attract beneficials, but also to make sure that that these habitats are spread throughout your landscape and near any plants that might be prone to pests.
Benziger has been committed to what is called Integrated Pest Management for more than 20 years. Over time they have developed a number of insectary gardens throughout their 85 acres, including a terraced vineyard of zinfandel along which are planted a mixture of olives, lavender, echium, bottle brush and flowering plants like calendula and California poppies ‹ all attractive to beneficials.
³We have quite a diverse mix of non-grapevine plants throughout the vineyards. It¹s a real blending of nature,² said Eierman, stressing that only half the estate is planted in vines.
The beauty of their insectary gardens is their wildness. They don¹t look planned. Every inch is covered with what appears to be a disparate array of shrubs and grasses that flower at different times. Although it may look unplanned, it is not.
Angelica attracts the predatory chalsid wasp. Tansy, a bright green ornamental herb with feathery leaves and yellow flowers, attracts lacewings. Minute pirate bugs like the asters. And one of the staples ‹ a big truck stop, if you will, on the insect flyway ‹ is yarrow. The big umbrella-like flowers are like a welcoming landing pad, Eierman said, and are a particular favorite of hoverflies.
³They¹re really easy for the bugs to see and find. It¹s like a neon sign with an arrow pointing, ŒFOOD,¹² he said.

- Billy

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Thanks, Billy.
Good ideas and things to look at and think about and plan for and all that stuff. Right now we are enjoying the benefits of the finch feeders and the freeloaders that hang out all day, and all the barn swallows, purple martins, chimney swifts, dragonflies, bats and nighthawks that are keeping the biters and others at bay.
The cardinals are working the cukes and maters on a regular basis and we've seen no sign hornworms yet. Costs me some sunflower seed as payment, but hey....
Had to shoot a young rabbit in the garden today. Stan's rations are going to be halved if he keeps missing such easy pickings as this. Damned cat, we have a contract.
Have had to hand pollinate the zukes, but am seeing a few honeybees on the cukes. Bumbles are taking care of the pollination of the eggplants (in pots, the damned flea beetles ruined the ground plants and they went to the crick). We are enjoying eggplant from the five potted plants....four Ichiban (yeah, I know...hybrid Ichiban, but they are damned good) and one Thai Long Green (open pollinated).
Asian cukes are coming on like gangbusters, as are the beans. Rattlesnake snap beans are at the top of the trellis...eight feet and waving in the wind, with lots of tiny beans. Empress bush beans are going nuts alos and we've had two messes steamed, served with garlic with ghee.
Had cuke, American Neufchâtel and lemon balm sammies for supper, along with pickled beets and onions.
Lot's of green onions/scallions being enjoyed. I've a tip for enjoying them all summer I'll get around to posting sometime soon, along with some cheap garden tool thingie ideas,
Had the first ripe maters yesterday...two cherry maters!!!
Been watering the pots with fish pond water, in which I am fighting algae...figure that the algae, and nitrogen from the goldfish is good for the plants. On a two week schedule to water with fishpond or rainwater and Alaska fish sauce.
Later brudda Charlie
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