WHAT IS BIOLOGICAL CONTROL? HOW DOES THIS METHOD CONTROL INSECTS IN THE GARDEN?
Instead of using chemicals, a gardener may want to use biological control, which is a method that allows one to control insects and diseases with natural predators.
Many organic gardeners believe that a landscape is more sustainable and healthier when there is more variety in it, that is, by using biodiversity. Therefore, an organic gardener works to develop a biological control system that keeps the insects at a manageable level with a complex system rather than eradicating them.
Rather than using the conventional gardening practices that rely on chemical methods, gardeners use the biological pest control, a holistic approach that works to develop an understanding of the interaction between the myriads of organisms that make up garden fauna and flora. An organic gardener who is using biological control will often prefer not to get rid of pests since without these insects, the beneficial parasites won’t be able to survive.
An important part of biological control is to become familiar with the life forms such as predators and pests that are found in your garden. That involves becoming familiar with the life cycles, feeding patterns, and the habitats that the insects prefer. Knowing this information will help the gardener determine on which insects he/she must focus his/her biological control and which ones will be taken care of naturally.
Types Of Predators That Help With Biological Control
Ladybugs, which are active between May and July, is the one main predator of aphids. They also consume mites, scale insects, and small caterpillars.
Hoverflies, which look like slightly darker bees or wasps but have one set of wings instead of two sets like the bee, is another welcome predator in the garden. Hoverflies feed primarily on the greenfly as well as on the fruit tree spider, mites, and small caterpillars. The hoverfly’s egg production relies on adults eating nectar and pollen; on the other hand, their larvae eat pest aphids on garden plants and crops. During the growing season, hoverflies can also encourage the growth of attractant flowers such as poached egg plant, marigolds and phacelia.
Another important predator, the dragonfly, attacks mosquitoes both in the air and in the water. Unfortunately, because the chemicals used for mosquito control programs will often kill the dragonflies along with the mosquitoes, this practice of spraying chemicals can and does affect the biological pest control methods and in the long run causes an increase in the population of the mosquitoes.
Also important to this group of predators are the larger breeds such as cats which focus on keeping the rat, mice, and bird populations down as well as dogs which chase away pests such as gophers and rabbits that burrow underground and cause problems in the garden. A specific breed of dog that works for these tunnel pests is Dachshunds which can fit inside the tunnels.
Although using this method of attracting natural predators to your garden is a viable method which takes more study and practice, biological control is certainly worth a try.