Today was the first time I attended a gardening class.  Till now, my lessons have been directly from my grandfather or by trial and error.  I’ve got to say that the class was phenomenal!  I learned so much about insects and the benefits of having insects in your garden.  I must say that the class taught by the UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Clara was of excellent quality.  Their expert knowledge and good experience made them stand out as very reliable sources.

The following slideshow pictures were all taken by renound nature photographer Robert Shimmon
www.bobshimmon.com whom I had the pleasure of meeting today.

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We talked about the balance of nature and how bugs fit in.  Apparently 97% of insects are beneficial.

Two Major Life Cycles

Complete Metamorphosis

Simple Metamorphosis

Egg -> Larva -> Pupa -> Butterfly
  1. Insect hatches from the egg
  2. The insect gets bigger and bigger
  3. Insect might shed its exoskeleton and grow more
Examples:

  • Butterfly
  • Moth
  • Beetles
  • Flies
  • Ants
  • Bees
  • Wasps
Examples:

  • Grasshoppers
  • Aphids (can also give live birth)

It’s very helpful to have gloves and a hand lens on hand while you are examining the insects on your plants.

***Predators and Parasites can take care of insects.

  • Predational stages of lady beetles will eat everything.
  • Black beatles are great predators of slugs and snail eggs.
  • Lace wing adults and larva are voracious feeders of aphids
Parasitism
  • Wasps are tremendously beneficial for controlling insect population.
  • Brown eggs near aphids with holes are parasitized.
How to attract beneficial insects?
***Diversity is really important
Insects eat:
  • Nectar for energy (contain carbs and sugar)
  • Pollen for protein
  • Leaves
Daisy like flowers are “landing pads” for bees
Tubular flowers (ex: Fox Gloves)
Tiny little flowers (ex: Alyssum) for small insects
In order to maintain a supply of beneficial insects all year-long, you must have flowers blooming all year-long.
* Don’t be fastidious.  If leaves are falling down, don’t pic them up right away.  There might be eggs beneath them.
* Tolerate insects “chewing” leaves
When is it a problem?
  • Identify that there’s a problem
  • Monitor your plants to see their normal state
  • Can you deal with the problem with mechanical/physical controls?
  • ex: Smash, squish, hose off with water
Biological Solutions
  • You can buy beneficial insects from your garden center but the insects will most likely fly away!
  • You can put a bag over a particular infested plant and release the beneficial insects to feast in the sealed bag.
  • Bacillus Thorengensis (bacterial solution) have no effect on beneficials.
  • Slug O to get rid of snails (skunks and possums might eat them as well)
  • Tangle Foot
Special Slug Solution Recipe given by our Master Gardener instructor
2 Cups of water
2 Tbs of sugar
2 Tbs of bread baking yeast
Traps
  • Place your terracotta pots upside down
  • All snails will go in because it’s dark and moist
  • You can just throw them away.
Final resort….Insecticides
Make sure to follow the instructions carefully!
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