The entomologists tell us that there are three types of activities certain insects engage in that end up being extremely beneficial to human beings. In fact, they say that the very survival of the human species depends upon the continued activities of certain insects (like Honeybees, for example). In our smaller worlds, the scientists say that if we gardeners entertain an insect presence in our gardens, we can pretty much eliminate the harsh and unnecessary chemicals that would otherwise permeate the "living" space within which we spend so much of our time. That is, with beneficial insects in residence within our gardens and yards, we can keep the very space where we live, clean and alive.
In the 20th century, when deadly insecticides like DDT were introduced to the world all insects were thrown into a single category. All insects became pests. But fairly quickly we came to understand that the web of life does not take to wholesale insecticide. Now we know that theories of control are generally much more ecologically sound than theories of elimination. And we now know that killing all insects never works; we end up having to use more and more deadly chemicals, and the insects we wanted to kill seem to end up being the ones that mutate and survive.
So, the lesson was control over elimination. And yet, if you happen to find yourself (without a gas mask) in the household chemical isle in any supermarket or superstore, you can find sprays and powders that will still treat all insects the same: they will kill the Ladybugs and the Earwigs in one fell swoop. Such chemicals are tempting, to be sure. But to use them -- the general and continued use of them -- can only work against the idea of a living garden. And thinking again about the entomologists. It goes without saying that the readiness to purchase and use without caution insecticides by general consumers would be distressing to the people who love insects, who dedicate their lives to studying insects. But, then again, you would expect most people to consider spraying toxic sprays into the air in yards within neighborhoods to be an unfortunate social practice.
Beneficial Garden Insects. This means that not all insects are on the 'Oh My God! Kill! Kill!' list that sends so many first-season gardeners to the chemical isles of the superstores. In fact, ecologic would have it that unless there is some truly adverse condition, there is no kill list anymore, at least not with toxic chemicals.
Predator insects get rid of pests in our gardens and crop fields, parasites slow the march of leaf eating insects, and pollinators insure the production of fruit from flowers. This added with your own predator presence in the garden and you have quite a strong defense against plant and crop damage.
A living garden will make every effort to host and assimilate predators, parasites and pollinators. Their presence in your garden can be read as a sign that your surroundings are alive and approaching a vibrancy that is deeper than simply throwing plants in the ground and spraying them with poison.
A living garden could be called a vital garden, a clean air garden, a conscious garden.
Train yourself to recognize beneficial insects. When you see them living happy and carefree in your garden, take a good look at what it is that makes the insects so happy. Then you can duplicate the conditions elsewhere in order to extend the living space of your garden.
Pollinating Insects to encourage:
Predatory insects to encourage:
Leaf imitating insects
Soil Producing & Enhancing Annelids
Try this book: Wildlife-Friendly Plants: Make Your Garden a Haven for Beneficial Insects, Amphibians and Birds
by Rosemary Creeser and Steve Wooser (Photographer). Beneficial insects, amphibians and birds are all right here in our own backyards. Plus, the concept is interesting and holds numerous possibilities.
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The amazing detail of a Monarch's wing -- or any butterfly's or moth's wing for that matter -- reflects in contrast the incredibly severe world through which the Monarch moves. In such a harsh world, the entire time is spent attempting to ensure the coming year's return of new generations. But as the Monarch moves up and down the countryside, they find less and less of the food source that sustains the species in its caterpillar, or eating stage. increasingly the scientists tell us that we can help the Monarch Butterfly by growing one or two Milkweed plants in the backyard. Grow a whole patch if you really want to help. But why Milkweed? Because apparently Milkweed is the only food source of the Monarch Butterfly caterpillar! The only food source.
In philosophy, the concept of weed has been looked at in much detail. It seems that it might be the case that there are no real weeds, just ones humans define. That is, certain plants become weeds (against their will?) by the characteristics we project upon them. Often times a plant becomes a weed because it grows where you don't want it to, or it becomes a weed if it propagates very easily, or if it is invasive, or considered ugly, etc. Milkweed has received the status of weed -- just look at the poor plant's name! But Milkweed is the only food of the Monarch caterpillar Certainly, then, the Monarch doesn't define Milkweed as a weed. Only a crazy butterfly would do such a thing.
It's easy to have a Praying Mantis set up residency in your backyard each summer. They generally stay in one area and are incredibly fascinating to watch. Plus they kill lots of wasps and flies.
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