Table of contents:
- Beneficials for soil improvement
- No fruit and vegetables without pollinators
- How to attract beneficial organisms
- be crazy
- Catchy tunes
- Toads and birds
- Shrew and mole
- Parasitic wasps
- Nematodes against the black weevil
- Protect houseplants
- Predatory mites
- Australian ladybug
Video: Attract beneficial organisms in the garden
For a long time, pests, i.e. animals that cause damage in ornamental or farm gardens, were mainly controlled with chemicals. But there is another way. Beneficial insects offer natural protection for our garden. In addition to destroying pests, they decompose our plant waste, pollinate the plants and improve the soil.
Around 540 tons of pesticides are used annually on German garden soils against weeds, fungal diseases, aphids, snails and other uninvited guests - at the expense of groundwater, biodiversity and the health of animals and humans. In the meantime, conservationists and gardeners have recognized that promoting the natural opponents of pests is an interesting way of biological pest control. Hobby gardeners can also use beneficials sensibly.
Beneficials for soil improvement
The basis for good and healthy plant growth is the quality of the soil. Here you can rely on beneficial organisms such as earthworms and compost worms. They dig corridors into the ground, loosen it up and ensure good ventilation. But that's not the only advantage they bring with them: they drag dead plant residues from the surface under the earth, eat them there and then fertilize the soil with what is probably the best organic fertilizer, their faeces (seven times more nutrient-rich than potting soil).
No fruit and vegetables without pollinators
If we do not want to end up like the people in China who slip into the role of bees and pollinate their own fruit, it is important that we promote our pollinator beneficials and provide them with enough food or do not contaminate them with pesticides. The most important pollinators for us are bees and bumblebees. In addition to these two important insects, there are also a whole series of others that pollinate our plants: Most of them are flyable insects such as butterflies, moths or hoverflies. In any case, one thing is clear: without insects, no fruit and vegetables! So avoid chemical clubs - don't drive them out of the garden - and rely on beneficial insects to keep your garden in order.
The most important pollinator beneficials for us are bees and bumblebees.
/ Andrey Snegirev
How to attract beneficial organisms
The wellbeing of nature and nature conservation are more and more important to many people. Every hobby gardener in his small realm can create a natural balance by dispensing with chemistry and instead using the beneficial organisms. One differentiates these opponents into predators and parasites. The pests become their prey or host animals and are decimated in a natural way.
Spiders are widespread predators. They catch lots of flying insects in their nets. It does not matter to them whether their prey is classified as harmful or useful by humans. Nevertheless, the gardener's assessment is generally positive, as pests are usually lighter and weaker than beneficials. For example, incoming aphids are stopped, whereas larger, often desired insects simply tear the nets. Spiders are extremely adaptable and fertile. Statistically speaking, six million spiders can live on one hectare of meadow. To promote them in the garden, it is therefore sufficient to leave the nets intact and to protect their clutches (cocoons).
Smaller pests get caught in the spider's web, while larger beneficial insects tear them apart.
Photo: pixellio.de/Frank Hollenbach
The centipedes are also quite indiscriminate when it comes to the design of their menu. Its approximately four centimeters long body is divided into up to almost 200 segments, each with a pair of legs. The first pair has been transformed into "pine feet", the last pair is elongated and reinforced in some species. The last three segments have no legs. Depending on the species, centipedes hunt for insects on the surface of the earth or in the ground. This also ensures that they maintain a natural balance and reduce overpopulation. The settlement of these crawlers in the garden can be promoted by providing appropriate shelters, for example of stones.
The settlement of dragonflies is a little more complex because they live on and from the water. Dragonflies also do not specialize in certain prey animals, but they mostly destroy flying insects and are therefore useful in the garden. Dragonflies are easy to recognize due to their specific body structure with the elongated rear end. They live up to four years as a larva in the water and spend most of their lives in the air.
Dragonflies live on and from the water.
Photo: pixelio.de/Rita Thielen
The common earwigs are quite specialized helpers. They mainly feed on aphids, scale insects and caterpillars. The easily recognizable, brown animals are up to two centimeters long and have tongs-like tail attachments on the rear. An adult catchy tune eats up to 120 aphids in one night. However, if there are not enough prey left, they also use plant food. Earwigs gladly accept settlement aid. To do this, hang upturned flower pots that were previously filled with wood wool and fix them with rabbit wire. Even more original shapes like in our picture are gladly accepted. It is best to place the nesting aids close to the aphid population.
Earwigs are beneficials that feed mainly on aphids, caterpillars and scale insects.
Photo: pixelio.de/Frank Hollenbach
The predatory ladybugs are useful and pretty. They are up to twelve millimeters tall, are spherical and dotted (usually black on red). Around 100 different species occur in Europe. Little is known that ladybugs of the same species can have very different patterns. Incidentally, the number of points is not an indication of age, but rather a family resemblance. Ladybugs are popular with humans mainly because of their high aphid consumption.
Each female lays several hundred yellow-orange eggs in dense pulps, from which larvae will soon hatch. These pupate after a growth period of around two weeks, in which they eat up to 400 aphids. By conserving eggs and larvae, especially in May and June, the ladybug population is decisively promoted. It is also important that the beetles find suitable places to spend the winter. Those who have large tufts of grass and leaves and stones lying around create good conditions for this.
Ladybugs are pretty and useful.
Toads and birds
Various vertebrates also serve well as beneficial organisms. No matter whether amphibians and reptiles, birds or other garden residents - they all look forward to a delicious pest meal.
Nocturnal pests, such as tensioners or snakes, also require nocturnal beneficials, preferably flying ones. Reason enough to create suitable hiding places for bats and to moth Dracula fantasies. A colony with 50 bats needs 15 kilos of insects in one season.
Caves or tunnels are the natural habitat of bats. Where these are not available, settlement options can be created by installing special roof tiles in the roof structure. There are also prefabricated nesting cavities on the market that can be hung in tree tops. Bats are picky, however, and may take a few years to move in.
Nocturnal beneficials like bats hunt for nocturnal pests.
Photo: pixelio.de/Henry Kessler
The gardener should also be happy about lizards and slow worms. Their preferred prey are worms, larvae and - particularly positive - snails. Lizards need a sunny, sheltered place, for example a dry stone wall. Slow worms prefer it to be damp and dark and therefore prefer places like the compost heap.
Lizards prefer to eat snails, worms and larvae.
The birds should not go unmentioned. Even if they usually prefer a mixed diet, they feed their young with larvae and insects. Tits and garden redtails are especially busy hunters. They like to stay if they are provided with suitable nesting facilities and trees and shrubs to stop over.
Birds are pleasant beneficials that will stay with you if you provide them with suitable nesting opportunities.
Photo: pixelio.de/Angelika Wolter
Common toads and toads, for example, used to be kept as “subtenants” in greenhouses because of their appetite for woodlice, Colorado beetle larvae or caterpillars. In the garden you absolutely need shelter under stones or boards and a nearby spawning area.
Common toads specialize in larvae and caterpillars. That is why they are very welcome to greenhouses.
Even some mammals make themselves useful in the garden and deserve special protection from the gardener (even if it is not always easy).
Shrew and mole
The shrew, which is actually not a mouse, but a weevil, often has to pay for the annoyance caused by real mice. But shrews dig no passages and eat no roots. They live in existing caves and eat grubs, mole crickets and snails. They can be recognized by the long pointed snout and the velvety fur.
Not only the velvety fur, but also the menu has the mole in common with the shrew. However, his habit of digging corridors and throwing up the loose earth up into hills makes him particularly unpopular with lawn lovers. Perhaps the annoyance of the fact that a mole destroys up to 36 kilos of pests annually alleviates this.
A mole can eat up to 36 kg of snails and other pests a year.
Photo: pixelio.de/Dieter Haugk
The hedgehogs are really popular garden visitors. The nocturnal hikers eat pretty much everything that crawls in front of them. During the day and in winter, they value an undisturbed area in the bushes or piles of leaves. What people may perceive as disorder is therefore very attractive to hedgehogs. Snail grain or rat poison, on the other hand, often also kill the prickly beneficial animal.
The hedgehog is a sweet beneficial animal that frees you from almost all pests as long as you keep your eyes on it.
Photo: alamystockphoto / Marko König
The parasitic wasps are well suited for breeding and artificial settlement. They fight apple, grape, ear and plum wrappers as well as coal owls, blood and San Jose lice. The female parasitic wasps lay around seven eggs a day in the pests' eggs for two weeks. In a growing season, up to eight generations of parasitic wasps can develop. The parasitic wasps are sent in the form of parasitic cereal moth eggs, which are glued to cardboard cards or embedded in capsules.
Tip: Anyone who owns a greenhouse has learned to fear the whitefly. The parasitic wasp also helps against them. It parasites the white fly larvae very effectively. The application takes place by means of cardboard cards with glued parasitic larvae.
You can buy some beneficials, such as parasitic wasps, to save your garden.
Photo: Nigel Cattlin / Alamy
Nematodes against the black weevil
Rhododendrons, thujen, ivy and so on - the black weevil loves what people find beautiful. It gnaws U-shaped bays into the leaves at night or peels off bark parts. At the same time, its larvae treat the roots of the plants comfortably, causing them to wither.
In this case, the use of nematodes has proven to be very effective. The less than one millimeter long parasites penetrate into the larvae and pupae hidden in the ground and kill them within a few days. The nematodes continue to migrate later and are very effective. The nematodes are easily distributed in water and thus applied around the plant. The most important criterion for a successful use of the nematodes is that the soil is kept evenly moist.
Aphids on the flower window or in the greenhouse can be easily controlled with lacewings. You can recognize these beneficials very well by their transparent green veined wings and their green body. The lacewings kill the aphid with poison and suck it out. Lacewing eggs are either laid out on paper strips or in scatterable material, or poured with water. They have a limited radius and must be applied as close as possible to the aphid colonies.
Lacewings fight poisonous aphids.
Photo: pixelio.de/Rita Thielen
The same with (almost) the same is combated by using predatory mites against spider mites. The useful predators differ from their plant-damaging prey only in the red color. The predators suck out the spider mites and their eggs and are quite effective. As soon as the prey runs out, the predatory mites also tend to cannibalism. Predatory mites are distributed on leaves or in sprinkles. They are also used successfully against thrips.
Cotton lice or mealybugs are particularly stubborn pests on houseplants. Your opponents have come a long way. It is the Australian ladybug. He is slightly smaller than his European cousins and has no dots, but a red head and dark brown wings. One of these beetles annihilates up to 300 mealybugs or mealybugs in the course of its life. Adult beetles are commercially available and can be easily placed near the pests.
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