Several years ago, my allotment suffered from an infestation of whitefly. If you have had such a pestilent case, then you will no doubt agree that these little critters are very difficult to eradicate even when using harsh eco-unfriendly pesticides. I thanked God every time I saw a ladybird or lacewing amongst my brassicas – natural predators against whitefly, aphids, etc.
Give a bug a home!
It makes sense to try to encourage natural predators such as bees, hoverflies, ladybirds and lacewings into our gardens and make them feel at home. Firstly, they are attractive insects and will add interest to any young naturalist. Secondly, they do need a good home – modern farming practices have caused a sharp decline in insect populations and many farmers now regret triggering such a vicious cycle of having to double pesticide effort because their insect allies have fallen under a devastating case of ‘friendly fire’. Thirdly, you cut out of the equation, the middle-man of disaster – the chemical company who produces the nasty substances that have partly given rise to your pestilence problem in the first place.
So, what’s the answer? Well, I’d suggest you build a bug a home or buy a ready made one. Ensure that there are plenty of hiding places for ground-dwelling predators such as frogs and toads, birds or hedgehogs. This can be cost-free by simply placing the old stone or timber under a shady bush.
As gardeners, we have got to stop thinking that we are separate from the naturalists. In order to win the battle of the pests, we need to become a regular ‘Bill Oddie’.