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Organic Insect Control With Beneficials

The plants listed here will provide year round small blossoms containing open or extrafloral nectaries for parasitic wasps, flies and midges. These open nectaries are essential for their small short mouthparts. The other types of beneficial insects do not require much special effort and will show up in almost any garden as long as no pesticides are used and a reasonable amount of habitat is provided. Most parasitics are naturally occuring or were introduced a long time ago and have become widespread, so they do not need to be purchased. Use caution with bug hotels since they can become mite hotels.

Annuals To Plant Inside the Garden
Perennials to Plant Outside the Garden
Weedy Perennials
Blooming Schedule
Repelling Voles and Rabbits
Attracting Insect and Pest Predators
Controlling Insects Underground
Organic Insecticide

Other Insect and Pest Control Links
Managing the Environment
Beneficials Links
Annuals / Biennials to Plant Inside the Garden

Annuals are useful to plant inside gardens because effectiveness is related to distance from nectar and pollen.

Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) - 
                annual in cold climates, 
                in warm climates can be 
                self sowing and weedy
Brassica family (Brassica sp. ) - biennial, 
                narrow open nectaries 
                used for overwintering
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) - annual
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) - 
                wide open nectary
Onion (Allium sp.) - biennial
Anise (Pimpinella anisum) - annual, 
                wide open nectary
Parsnip (Apiaceae Pastinaca sativa) - 
                wide open nectary
Chicory (Cichorium intybus) - biennial
Celery (Apium graveolens) - wide open nectary
Common Vetch (vicia sativa) - biennial, 
                extrafloral nectaries
Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp.) - 
                extrafloral nectary
Fava Bean (Vicia faba L.) - extrafloral nectary
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) - 
                provides winter host sites for 
                Macrocentrus ancylivorus

Below are examples of how interspersing beneficials throughout your crops is so useful.

Dr. Eric Brennan - biological intercropping
eOganic: Helen Atthowe - insect travel distance
Perennials and Biennials to Plant Beside the Garden

Perennials present the best opportunity to increase parasitics with as little work as possible. Strips inside fields and garden are more effective than just around the field or garden.

Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) - 
                flowing nectaries.
                Ideal mixed in tall tree orchards.
Willowwood Viburnum 
( Viburnum rhytidophylloides 
x V. lantanaphyllum ) - 
                tall bush
                Attracts Bombyliidae, Tachinid, 
                Syrphid, Trichogramma, etc.
Shrubby Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa) - 
                shrub, but not tall.
                For orchards with animals, cage it.
                Spider reservoir.
Bridalwreath Spirea 
(Spiraea prunifolia var. simpliciflora) - 
                shrub, but not tall.
                For orchards with animals, cage it.
                Spider reservoir.
Sea Holly ( Eryngium tripartitum or maritimum ) - 
                magnet for parasitic wasps
                be sure to get non-invasive variety.
Shasta Daisy ( Leucanthemum superbum ) - 
                perennial, not invasive, 
                open nectary, reblooms.
                get disease resistant variety.
Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) - 
                perennial fall blooming 
                hybrid varieties:
                Golden Cloth, Goldenmosa, 
                Golden Fleece
Chrysanthemum (Dendranthema grandiflorum) - 
                must be single flower daisy type 
                for open nectary.
Inula (Inula royleana, orientalis, helenium, .....) - 
                blooms summer and fall
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium and filipendulina) - 
                excellent overwintering site for 
                parasitic wasps
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) - 4-6 year perennial.
Russian Comfrey ( Symphytum uplandicum - 
               perennial, a hybrid between 
               Symphytum officinale (common comfrey) 
               Symphytum asperum (rough comfrey) ) - 
               excellent for overwintering 
               parasitic wasps.
               Sterile seeds so must propagate by root.
Wood's Rose (Rosa woodsii) - 
               perennial bush in arid regions 
Peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa) - 
               perennial, extra floral nectary
Caraway (Carum Carvi) - 
               biennial, wide open nectary
Coriander/Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) - 
               biennial, narrow open nectary
New England Aster 
(Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) -
               blooms late summer through fall.
               dark purple seems the most attractive.
Roman Chamomile ( Chamaemelum nobile ) -       
             blooms early - mid summer
Shrubby or Weedy Perennials, Biennials, Annuals

These are best grown far away from the garden, since they can be invasive.

Boneset (Eupatorium serotinum and perfoliatum) - 
Grass-leaved Goldentop (Euthamia graminifolia) - 
               rhizomatous perennial
               weedy in moist environments
Coreopsis ( Coreopsis lanceolata ) - perennial, 
                open nectary
                deadhead for late fall blooms
Golden Marguerite (Cota tinctoria) - perennial, 
                open nectary
Sweet Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) - perennial, 
                wide open nectary
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) - perennial, 
                summer bloom
Rue ( Ruta graveolens ) - perennial, 
                open nectaries
Dill (Anethum graveolens) - biennial, 
                wide open nectary
Queen Ann's Lace (Daucus carota) - 
              biennial, wide open nectary, 
               used for overwinter

Blooming Schedule

(make sure there are several plants blooming at all times): SPRING PERENNIAL - Bridalwreath Spirea, Willowwood Viburnum, Peonies SPRING ANNUAL - Vetches, Sweet Alyssum SPRING BIENNIAL - Brassica, Onion SUMMER PERENNIAL - Boneset, Goldentop, Yarrow, Fennel, Cinquefoil, Coreopsis, Shasta Daisy, Rue, Tansy, Golden Marguerite, Inula, Alfalfa, Chamomile, Sea Holly SUMMER ANNUAL/BIENNIAL - Anise, Chicory, Sweet Alyssum, Parsley, Parsnip, Caraway, Coriander, Queen Ann's Lace, Dill, Cowpea, Sunflower FALL PERENNIAL - Coreopsis, Shasta Daisy, Willowwood Viburnum, Chrysanthemum, Goldenrod, Inula, Cinquefoil FALL ANNUAL - Buckwheat, Sweet Alyssum, Fava Bean

Preventing Insect and Disease Infestations

1. Grow plants that are well adapted to the soil and climate of the area. For example, grow fava when and where the climate is cool and moist for a long period.

2. Grow crops at the proper time. For example, grow brassica crops in the fall only; except turnip. They are too attractive to insects in the spring and summer. Plant turnip and flax ultra early in the spring even if you have to chip ice off the soil. Plant peas, carrot, and beet also very early. The sooner you plant the easier it is to avoid the insects in late spring / early summer.

3. Grow resistant varieties.

4. Use integrated pest management techniques by getting bacteria, fungus, plants, beneficial insects, and animals to control harmful insects for you. For example, grow plants that attract beneficial insects in and around the garden.

5. Crop rotation. See:

Organic Self Sufficiency Garden Crop Rotation

6. Avoid large monocultures if at all possible.

University of Massachusetts - monocultures

7. Hogs can be used to eat fallen fruit and interrupt insect breeding cycles.

8. Avoid spraying tree bark with dormant oil since it may kill beneficial predatory wasp nest eggs.

9. Avoid having lights anywhere near the garden at night. Light attracts most moths.

10. Use plants as cover crops that suppress soil insects such as marigold, castor bean, sesame, etc..

ACES - plants that suppress nematodes
Repelling Voles and Rabbits
Rodent Bait Station
Plant Daffodils, garlic, tobacco, 
Malus prunifolia X M. sieboldii (Novole), etc. 
around fruit trees. - plants resistant to rodents and deer

Attracting Insect and Pest Predators

Very small bird nest boxes or habitat. NRCS - Warbler habitat guide USDA - birds that eat scale insects Do not put out bird feeders. It will only train them to eat your crops, instead of the insects you want them to eat. Owl nest boxes - owls for mouse and rabbit control Nest box guide Bat nest sites. Bat nest boxes Bat Conservation International Grass or straw mulched areas - spiders Snakes, lizards, and frogs - water and hiding places. (ie: log pile, rocks) snakes will breed in a wood chip pile. Wasp boxes water in gravel pans for wasps Carabid Beetles: Habitat strips, windbreaks, and hedgerows are adequate to increase populations in most well drained soils. Beetle banks are only necessary for flat land that becomes water logged during heavy rains. Beetles and some parasitoids have narrow and slow dispersion, so habitats must be throughout the crop area.
      University of Maine
      Penn State

Always keep undisturbed perennial beds nearby. Beneficials will pupate in the soil under them and on the stems. Comfrey, yarrow, and Brassica sp. are especially effective.

Controlling Insects Underground

Practice clean culture in the fall. Insure all crop residue is touching the ground. 
Keep some small areas on the edge intact with Yarrow, Comfrey, Brassica, Solidago, Euthamia, etc. for overwintering.

Hard wood chips - 
        grows fungus which kill nematodes

Grasshoppers - 
               grow plants that repel them:
               oats, peas, cilantro, tomato
               , inoculate with Nosema locustae
               , pupae are killed by parasitic flies 
               and wasps

Parasitic nematodes - 
          kills many soil insects, 
          especially plum curculio

Milky spore - 
          kills June and Japanese beetle grubs
          Japanese Beetle

Ants - 
            they are carnivorous predators that 
            are very good for the garden
            especially in controlling plum curculio

Nematode supression:
            ACES - plants that suppress nematodes
            Produces a substance called 
            which can aid in the reduction of 
            root-knot nematodes and other disease 
            promoting organisms, such as fungi, 
            bacteria, insects, and some viruses.
            African (Tegetes erecta) and 
            French marigolds (T. patula) 
            are the most commonly used. 
            The most effective variety depends 
            on your location. 
            Different Marigold species do not cross 
            University of Florida
            North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture
            U.C. Davis
            Lentils resist nematodes
            Marigold supresses nematodes
             Rye, brassica, red clover, Cowpea, crimson clover 
            cowpea (Mississippi Silver, Iron Clay),  sunn hemp, sorghum-sudangrass, marigold, jointvetch, velvetbean, horsebean, sesame, hairy indigo, castor, partidge pea, showy crotalaria, rye, wheat, lupine, oat, white vetch (Cahaba), red clover(Cherokee)
            Lima beans
            cowpea, lima

Organic Insecticide

Bacillus thuringiensis - bacteria which disrupts the disgestive system of leaf eating worms. Not necessary for cole crops if they are planted in the fall. Tobacco (Nicotiana rustica) - nicotine insecticide in roots during growth and in leaf at maturity. Blossoms used by bees for self medication. Tobacco Ringspot Virus Seedman Non-Hybrid Seeds Wormwood - insecticide Wild plants with insecticidal properties listed in Peterson's Medicinal Plants Field Guide Beauveria bassiana and Beauveria brongniartii - fungus which attack insects
Managing the Environment
Univ of Illinois - full IPM discussion.
Public Resource - history of biological control
NCAT - insect control through ecosystem management
UC Davis - IPM
Washington State - beneficial insects
ATTRA - Farmscaping
SARE - Managing Insects
NCSU - Attracting parasitics
University of Florida - habitat for beneficials
Beneficial Stink Bug - Proboscis images
University of Virginia - Stink Bug Identification
Open Nectaries:

McBug - small mouthparts, overwintering
Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden By Jessica Walliser
Beneficials Links

NRCS USDA - general list with good list of parasitic attractors
University of Vermont - bio-controls by specific pest
Farmer Fred - general list with good list of parasitic attractors
University of California - general list with good list of parasitic attractors
Colorado State - general list with good list of parasitic attractors
Swedish study comparing attractiveness
Fern Creek - general list
University of Kentucky - Scolia dubia, parasitizes green June beetle grubs
Master Gardeners of Mercer County - general list
USDA - New Mexico wild species
ATTRA - beneficial insect publications
Specific studies for parasitics:

Parasitoids: Behavioral and Evolutionary Ecology
Apiaceae Family By Boris Lariushin
Great Garden Companions By Sally Jean Cunningham
Pacific Horticulture - Braconid Wasp
McBug - parasitic insects, overwintering
Univ Cal - Successional sunflowers for Oriental Fruit Moth
Michael Phillips - Oriental Fruit Moth
IFAB - wild flower strips
Plants that attract Diadegma semiclausum
FCLA - Alyssum
NCBI - Attracting parasitics
Suppressing the host immune system with a virus
Balkan Ecology Project
SARE - beneficial insect study
Ichneumon Wasps
Dr Mcbug - Tiphia Wasp
Plum Curculio:

Once fruit starts to drop, the larvae require several days before they are mature enough to burrow into the soil. The most sustainable methods of control seem to be using animals to eat the fruit as soon as it drops and the use of polyculture.

Univ of Cal - ATTRA Apple Organic Guide
Plum cuculio - nematode controls
eOrganic - fungus, bacteria, and nematode bio-controls
Predator Midge:

Feltiella acarisuga is a predator midge used against Spider Mites. It can be used in low humidity environments. The aphid midge, Aphidoletes aphidimyza, is a cecidomyiid fly whose larvae are effective predators of aphids. These are naturally occuring predators and do not usually need to be purchased.

ATTRA - general list with parasitic and midge attractors
Virginia Tech - midge
Euthamia and Solidago galls - midges
Beneficial midges -  Aphidoletes aphidomyza, Dasineura rubiformis
Predatory Mites (Phytoseiids and Stigmaeid):

Avoid dusty conditions, pesticide sprays, and dormant oils which disrupt these naturally occuring predators. Purchasing these predators is not usually necessary.

Cornell - predatory mites
eOrganic - biological pest control in tree crops
Codling Moth:

Codling Moth control requires many generalist predators and parasitoids. But, removing fruit drop immediately is the most effective control method.

Oregon State - Codling moth
Colorado State - Codling Moth
Grow Organic Apples - codling moth
Spotted Wing Drosophila

Biological control
eOrganic - organic approved insecticide and bait
eOrganic - early bio-controls
Dung Beetle:
Often needs to be purchased.

Dung Beetle identification

Fly Control

The cheapest and most effective methods of fly control are animals / insects that break up the manure. Fast animal movement is the other key. Parasites and predators are a secondary line of defense. For most of the wasps that parasitize flys, pollen and nectar are non-host food sources that enhance reproduction. Traps are not worth the effort and expense.

Auburn - pollen and nectar
University of Arkansas - control of flies in poultry facilities
IPM for Parasites
U.C. Davis - fly parasites
Insect Images
University of California - mites
Scielo - mite dispersal
Monitoring pests:

eOrganic - scouting for pests

Rincon-Vitova Insectaries
Bug Lady Consulting
BioControl Network
Garden For Nutrition Index