Using Beneficial Bugs Your Indoor Garden
Bugs and pests are often thought of as an outdoor gardening problem. The truth is that common garden pests can also make their way into the house. Just like bringing home fruit flies from the market on a bunch of bananas, garden pests can also be carried in on clothing, blow in on the wind when the door is opened, or be carried in by a pet. Many indoor gardeners will turn to pesticides to kill the invaders. In an outdoors situation, this is not a problem because the evaporates get carried off in the wind. The problem with this approach in an indoor setting is that when the chemicals disperse, they circulate into the room air and make the plants as well as people sick. A better alternative is to use beneficial insects to keep pests at bay.
The ladybug is a popular beneficial insect, for both indoor and outdoor gardening. Some indoor gardening centers keep them in stock, but most growers will have to order them off of the Internet. They are popular because they are easy to keep. To keep them from flying they can be sprayed with a sugar solution. This solution will gum up their wings, keeping them from flying. The ladybug’s favorite pest to eat is aphids. A single lady bug can eat up to 5,000 aphids during a lifetime, this translates to50-60 a day. They will also eat other soft bodied pests that find their way to the indoor garden. This includes pests like leaf hoppers and mealy bugs. Another plus for ladybugs is that they lie dormant when cold. They can be kept dormant in a refrigerator for a few weeks, making them one of the only beneficial bugs that can be kept in storage, only taking out what is necessary when needed. Just be careful that they do not dry out and do not let them freeze.
The beneficial nematode is another powerhouse beneficial insect. Used for soil applications, beneficial nematodes are introduced into the soil of plants. They are a type of microscopic roundworm that targets a wide variety of pest. They work by attacking pests from the inside. When a pest larvae is in the soil, the nematode enters through body cavities and begins to eat the pest from the inside. A favorite pest of the beneficial nematode is also a common pest, the gnat.
The praying mantis is another beneficial insect that is easy on the eyes. They are sold by the egg casing or as adult bugs. Egg casings contain hundreds of eggs that hatch into tiny carnivorous beast that will search out pests to feed on. When using praying mantis keep in mind that it should be the only above ground bug used. They will happily feast on ladybugs and lacewings if given the chance.
By using beneficial insects instead of using chemicals will greatly improve the overall health of the plants. Air quality will also be improved and the chance of accidental overdosing from the pesticides won’t happen. Both people and plants will benefit from the natural alternative.