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 Garden 'Mini' Insectary  
   
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A
garden 'mini' insectary is a small garden plot of
flowering plants designed to attract and harbor beneficial insects.

These 'good' insects prey on many common garden
insect pests and offer the gardener a safer, natural
alternative to pesticides.

 

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A garden insectary is a form of "companion planting", based on the positive effects plants can share as a method of deterring pests, acquiring nutrients or attracting natural predators. By becoming more diverse with your plantings, you are providing habitat, shelter and alternative food source, such as pollen and nectar, something many predators need as part of their diet.

Aphid predators such as aphidius, need the pests to be present in order to reproduce. The idea of inviting the pests in may seem alarming, until you understand that you can encourage host specific pests. These pests will remain on the desired plant in your mini insectary yet provide an ideal breeding ground for the associated predators and parasites.

The plot does not have to be large, just big enough to hold 6-7 varieties of plants which attract insects. Once the garden has matured you can watch your personal insect security force do the work for you.

 



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pictured below, left to right: Statice, Lupin, Tansy, Queen Anne's Lace, Sunflower
 
  “Mini Insectary” Plants

Achillea filipendulina
Alyssum
Amaranthus
Anethum graveolens (Dill)
Angelica gigas
Convolvulus minor
Coreopsis
Cosmos bipinnatus
Digitalis
Daucus Carota (Queen Anne's lace)

Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel)
Helianthus annulus
Iberis umbellata

Limonium latifolium (Statice)
Lupin

Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm)
Petroselinum crispum (Parsley)
Scabiosa (Pincushion flower)
Shasta Daisy
Sunflowers
Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy)
Verbascum thaspus
Yarrow
Beneficial Predators Attracted

Lacewings, Aphidius, Ladybugs
Hoverflies, Lacewings, Tachnid flies
Ground beetles
Ichneumon wasp, Ladybugs, Lacewings
Lacewings
Ladybugs, Hoverflies
Hoverflies, Lacewings, Parasitic wasps
Hoverflies, Parasitic wasps, Lacewings
Dicyphus
Lacewings, Ladybugs, Hoverflies
Damsel bugs, Ladybugs, Lacewings
Pirate bugs, Beneficial mites
Hoverflies
 
Hoverflies, Parasitic wasps
Aphidius, Aphidoletes, Hoverflies
Parasitic wasps, tachinid flies
Parasitic wasps, hoverflies, tachinid flies
Hoverflies, Parasitic wasps
Pirate bugs, Beneficial mites
Pirate bugs, Aphidius, Parasitic wasps
Ladybugs, Lacewings
Dicyphus
Hoverflies, Parasitic wasps, Ladybugs
 
    Beneficial Predators

Aphidius
Aphidoletes
Beneficial mites
Damsel Bugs (Nabidae)
Dicyphus
Ground Beetles
Hoverflies
Lacewings
Ladybugs
Pirate Bugs
Tachinid flies
Wasps (parasitic)
Prey

Aphids
Aphids
Thrips, spidermite, fungus gnats
Eggs of many pest insects
Whiteflies, aphids, thrips, spider mites
Slugs, small caterpillars and grubs
Aphids, mealybugs and others
Scale, aphids, mites, softbodied insects
Aphids, mites
Thrips, aphids, mites, scales, whiteflies
Caterpillars, beetle and fly larvae
Whiteflies, moth, beetle and fly larvae
 
pictured above, left to right: ichneumon wasp, lacewing, pirate bug, hoverfly, damsel bug


Tips and suggestions:


~ Intersperse vegetable beds with rows or islands of insectary annuals. This will add decorative elements to your vegetable beds while luring beneficials toward prey.
~ Allow some of your salad and cabbage crops to bloom.
Brassica flowers (cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, bok choy) are also attractive to beneficial insects.
~ Include plants of different heights in your insectary.
Ground beetles require the cover provided by low-growing plants such as thyme, rosemary, or mint. Lacewings lay their eggs in shady, protected areas, so providing such places near crop plants is a good idea.
~ Tiny flowers produced in large quantity are much more valuable than a single, large bloom.
Large, nectar-filled blooms actually can drown tiny parasitoid wasps.
~ Members of the Umbelliferae family are excellent insectary plants.
Fennel, angelica, coriander, dill, and wild carrot all produce the tiny flowers required by parasitoid wasps.
~ Composite flowers
(daisy and chamomile) and mints (spearmint, peppermint, or catnip) will attract predatory wasps, hoverflies, and robber flies.
~ Grow green manure.
Clover and vetch, commonly used as cover crops for soil enhancement, are also effective insectary plants.
~ Herbs
(coriander, dill and fennel) will attract hoverflies, lacewings, ladybugs and tachnid flies to your garden. Coriander (cilantro) is one of the top insectary plants. Caraway, chervil, dill, fennel and parsley flowers are also valued insectary plants.


A garden insectary should be thought of as a long-term permanent component of your garden. Results are not instant and conclusive; rather, the benefits to your garden are cumulative. As your plantings mature and resident populations of beneficial insects are established, the need for chemical pesticides and other agressive insect control techniques will diminish. Your garden will become a more natural and balanced environment for the healthy production of vegetables and flowers.



    


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