How to Deter Pests with Plants!
Whats wrong with pesticides? Everything!
Pesticides, biocides in general, and fertilizers are all poison. They require a ton of energy to produce and are literally derived from warfare chemicals. Using these chemicals on your property in any way not only deters beneficial insects but will create an environment for pests to spiral out of control. Biocides of any kind, including "organic" brands, will force plants into a dependent state by causing your soil to die due to the biocides which kills anything it comes in contact with, not just a pest.
If you've ever been to a large mono-crop farm, even some small farms, I'm sure you've noticed the dirt they "grow" their crops from. Well it's dirt not soil because nothing is alive in it so the only way for the plants to grow and produce is through fertilizers and biocides. This is NOT how we should be getting out food.
The key to any healthy property, garden, or farm is healthy vast soil life. If you are killing everything that builds soil life you are literally taking any chance of resilience away and forcing your plants into dependency which is unsustainable. There is no need to fertilize or use biocides at all when you have a balanced ecosystem which includes insects and lots of them.
A few important facts:
- All pests have natural predators that keep them in check.
- Insects are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem. Without insects we would have very little variety of food that would grow, no ability to compost reducing waste streams, and we would not have healthy soil to keep us fed and healthy.
- Before fertilizers were abundantly used on farms farmers had natural hedgerows that grew wild along creeks and at the backs of pastures. These hedgerows provided vital ecosystems for insects to thrive on and kept the ecosystem close to balanced. When farmers started to clear these “wasteful” areas they also wiped out the ecosystem of these valuable farmers helpers.
- According to the USDA disease and insect damage to the farmers crops jumped from a high but manageable 7% to a devastating 14% in just a few years and this damage is still growing! To “fix” this massive jump in crop damage farmers, instead of simply allowing these areas to regrow for free, were baited into using poisons to eliminate pests. The same poisons used in warfare! Fighting nature is a battle that will never be won or ought to be fought.
A Very Short List of Beneficial Insects and their Roles
- Ladybugs: Feed on aphids, mites, and soft-body insects and insect eggs. Ladybugs overwinter in protected places such as leaf litter and under rocks. Ladybugs and their
larvae can eat 50 – 500 aphids per day! Adults survive on nectar and pollen from shallow flower clusters such as yarrow and sunflowers.
- Ground Beetles: Feed on potato-beetle eggs and other beetle eggs.
- Rove Beetles: Consume cabbage maggots, onion maggots, and other root maggots.
Lacewing: Larvae attack aphids, mealybugs, thrips, caterpillars and their eggs, mites, and scales. Larvae spin yellow, pea-sized cocoons on leaves that hatch in about two weeks. Adults rely on pollen and nectar for food.
- Colony forming predatory wasps such as Yellow Jackets and Paper Wasps: Prey on caterpillars.
- Solitary predatory wasps such as Digger Wasps: Prey on weevils crickets, and caterpillars.
- Most adult wasps need pollen and nectar to survive. They like composite flowers such as daisy, chamomile, and mints.
- Parasitic wasps fall into three categories:
1. Braconids: lay their eggs on or in cabbageworms, tomato hornworms, and other caterpillars.
2. Chalcides: 1/32 of an inch. Prey on mealybugs, aphids,
and the larvae of moths, beetles, and butterflies.
3. Ichneumonid: Insert their ovipositor into moth and butterfly larvae and lay eggs inside the insects. All these wasps rely on pollen and nectar as adults to survive.
A Very Short List of Plants that Attracts Beneficial Insects
This chart outlines a small amount of plants that attract beneficial insects to reduce, even eliminate, pests.
Founder | Designer | Broker
NativeJax Permaculture Design and Real Estate
“Chapter 7: Bringing in the Bees, Birds, and Other Helpful Animals.” Gaia's Garden: a Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, by Toby Hemenway, Chelsea Green, 2009, pp. 151–160