Gardening with Laurie: Good bugs, bad bugs
By Laurie Garretson
March 15, 2012 at midnight
Updated March 14, 2012 at 10:15 p.m.
One thing new gardeners learn about very quickly is the abundance of insects that somehow show up in landscapes - good ones, as well as not so good ones.
Unfortunately, many gardeners immediately just want to get rid of the insects, not knowing whether they're beneficial or not.
I realize that to many people all bugs are here to get rid of, kind of like how some people feel about snakes.
But nature developed a wonderful system of checks and balances. This means that beneficial insects are here to help keep the unwanted insects from getting out of control.
There's only one thing wrong with this system. Humans decided they knew a better way to handle agricultural problems, such as unwanted garden pests.
Since World War II, man has developed many ways to kill all kinds of life. These products have certainly taken a toll on everything from insects to animals to humans.
There are still many types of beneficial insects out there to help rid your part of the world of the unwanted types. Every so often, it's helpful to release more of the beneficial types just to give nature a bit of help.
One of the beneficial insects we need around, especially at this time of year, is Trichogramma wasps. These stingless wasps live only to reproduce and eat the larvae of worms and caterpillars.
Trichogrammas are among the smallest wasps there are. Trichogrammas occur naturally throughout the United States, but they usually just don't occur in large enough numbers to effectively help suppress the pests populations we gardeners have.
One of the benefits of the Trichogramma wasp is that they get rid of the unwanted pests before it can do any damage to your plants, nut trees, fruit trees, vegetables or any type plant prone to worm damage.
Effectively eliminating pests with beneficial insects is all in the timing of the releases.
The climate throughout world has become very erratic the past several years making release predictions harder to estimate.
Generally, we release the beneficial wasps from the first of March through September. It is best to make frequent releases, seven to 10 days intervals, of the wasp over several weeks time in order to have a better control of all pests.
A frequent release schedule is best for all beneficial insects. Replenishing your army of good bugs is always a benefit to eliminating your insect pest problems.
Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.
Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.