Garden For Nutrition Index
Choose your background color:

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. Bug hotels should be avoided since they will quickly become mite hotels.

Annuals To Plant Inside the Garden 
Perennials to Plant Outside the Garden 
Weedy Perennials
Blooming Schedule
Beneficials Links 

Other Insect and Pest Control Methods
Fly Control 
Attracts Insect and Pest Predators 
Controlling Insects Underground 
Organic Insecticide 
Repelling Voles and Rabbits
Annuals / Biennials to Plant Inside the Garden
Annuals are useful to plant inside gardens because 
effectiveness is related to distance from nectar 
and pollen. Strips are good but actually mixing 
with the primary crop is best. Either leave the best 
examples in place to overwinter and bloom next year, 
or transplant while dormant during winter to a location 
where needed next year.

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
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.
If they are tall enough and woody, it can be easier to 
keep animals off of them.
Some of them can be useful in vineyards and orchards, 
such as Willowwood Viburnum, Bridalwreath Spirea and 
Tulip Tree.

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 one of the disease resistant varieties.
Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) - perennial fall blooming 
         hybrid varieties:
         Golden Cloth, Goldenmosa, Golden Fleece
Chrysanthemum (Dendranthema grandiflorum) - perennial, 
        must be single flower daisy type for open nectary.
        Northern Sunset - mums
Inula (Inula royleana, orientalis, helenium, .....) - blooms summer and fall
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium and filipendulina) - perennial.
        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) 
        and 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 away from the garden.
Border grass, brush and thicket habitat may be just as 
important as inter-planted strips.

Boneset (Eupatorium serotinum and perfoliatum) - perennial
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
Beneficial Rejects
Many more were rejected because they are too toxic, 
too low laying, requires excess moisture, 
attract moths, etc. 
But every farmer / gardener has different requirements.

Manhattan Euonymus (Euonymus kiautschovicus) - 
Fantastic source of nectar in late summer. 
Ultra attractive to parasitics.
Also very attractive to scale and fungus. 
Better in dry climates.

Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Fleabane (Erigeron sp) - non invasive hybrids available

(Attracts larger parasitics which tend to prey on honeybees.)
Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Extra-Floral Nectaries  bachelor buttons, cornflower
Elderberry (Sambucus sp) - shrub, attractive to parasitics also.
                         Very small numbers may be useful
                         in thickets.

Extra-Floral Nectaries  Sweet potatoes

Amaranth (Amaranthaceae Amaranthus caudatus)
Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) 
Calendula (Calendula spp.)
Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)
Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) 
Kenafe (Hibiscus cannabis)  
Corn (Zea mays)
Candytuft (Iberis sp.)
Statice (Limonium latifolium)
Edging lobelia (Lobelia erinus)
Butter and eggs (Linaria vulgaris)

Beneficials Links

Open Nectaries:
Rutgers - Many parasitics need wide open nectaries
McBug - small mouthparts, overwintering
Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden By Jessica Walliser
eXetension - open nectaries and extrafloral nectaries
Open nectary flowers for small mouthparts
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
University of Connecticut - peonies
Suppressing the host immune system with a virus
Balkan Ecology Project
SARE - beneficial insect study
Ichneumon Wasps
Univ. Connecticut - Tiphia Wasp
Dr Mcbug - Tiphia Wasp
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):
Predators of spider mites such as European Red Mite (Panonychus ulmi), 
, and the two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae)
, and the apple rust mite (Aculus schlechtendali). 
Avoid dusty conditions, pesticide sprays, and dormant oils  
which disrupt these naturally occuring predators. 
Purchasing these predators is not usually necessary. 
Typhlodromus pyri - overwinters in crevices on trunks
    Diet of pollen, fungi, plant fluids, and spider mites. 
Amblyseius fallacis - overwinters in trees. 
    Ground cover helps keep populations in place.
    Rapid population growth.
Galendromus occidentalis - more effective under hot dry conditions. 
Cornel - predatory mites
eOrganic - biological pest control in tree crops
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
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
General list of predator attractors:
NRCS USDA - general list with good list of parasitic attractors
University of Connecticut - general list with good list of extrafloral nectaries
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
Stratford Canada - general list with good list of parasitic and midge attractors
Swedish study comparing attractiveness
Fern Creek - general list
Organic Gardening - 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
Managing the environment:
Univ of Illinois - full IPM discussion.
eOganic - Helen Atthowe and Carl Rosato, predator / parasite travel distance
Public Resource - history of biological control
NCAT - insect control through ecosystem management
NCAT - trap crops
UC Davis - IPM
Washington State - beneficial insects
ATTRA - Farmscaping
SARE - Managing Insects
Wisconsin entomology
NCSU - Attracting parasitics
University of Florida - habitat for beneficials
Balkan Ecology Project
Beneficial Stink Bug - Proboscis images
University of Virginia - Stink Bug Identification
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
Monitoring pests:
eOrganic - scouting for pests
Rincon-Vitova Insectaries
Bug Lady Consulting - where to buy good bugs
BioControl Network

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.

Union of Concerned Scientists - 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


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. And most traps just are not worth the effort and expense. CATTLE MANURE: Pteromalidae Muscidifurax raptor wasp for the cold winter months. Pteromalidae Muscidifurax zaraptor and M. raptorellus wasp during the warmer seasons. Spalangia nigroaena parasitic wasp digs deeper into manure. Staphylinid and rove beetles are predators. Scarab beetles are dung beetles. POULTRY MANURE: Pteromalidae Muscidifurax zaraptor works for both cattle and poultry manure. Spalangia endius, Spalangia nigroaenea, and Nasonia vitripennis best wasps in poultry houses. Macrocheles muscae domesticae, a macrochelid mite, is the most studied and most effective for poultry manure. Uropodid mite, Fuscuropoda vegetans, which feeds deep in poultry manure. Hister beetles, Carcinops pumilio and Gnathoncus nanus, are predators in poultry manure. Also the lesser mealworm or darkling beetle (Alphitobius diaperinus) and the hide beetle (Dermestes maculatus) are predators.
Florida State - pollen and nectar
Auburn - pollen and nectar
University of Arkansas - control of flies in poultry facilities
APSS - livestock flies
IPM for Parasites
U.C. Davis - fly parasites
Insect Images
University of California - mites
Cornell University - mites
Scielo - mite dispersal

Attracting Insect and Pest Predators

very small bird nest boxes or habitat. NRCS - Warbler habitat guide USDA - birds that eat scale insects Annenberg - birds that eat 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
Controlling Insects Underground

Practice clean culture in the fall. (Work in all crop residue.)
This will also reduce soil insect populations.
Keep some small areas on the edge intact with Yarrow, 
Comfrey, Brassica, Solidago, Euthamia, etc. for 

Hard wood chips - grows fungus which kill nematodes
Grasshoppers - plowing in the fall and allow poultry to eat pupae
               , work in insecticidal plants
               , oats, peas, cilantro, squash, tomato leaves
                     will repel grasshoppers 
               , 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
Produces a substance called alpha-terthienyl, 
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 pollinate. 
    ACES - plants that suppress nematodes
    Journal of Nematology
    University of Florida
    North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture
    U.C. Davis

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. Till into the soil under fruit trees: (Unfortunately, these can also kill beneficial insects too. Always keep perennial beds nearby for beneficials to pupate in the soil under and on the stems. Especially comfrey, yarrow, and Brassica sp.) 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
Repelling Voles and Rabbits

Plant Daffodils, garlic, tobacco, Malus prunifolia X M. sieboldii (Novole), etc. 
around fruit trees. - plants resistant to rodents and deer

Garden For Nutrition Index