A Very ‘Beneficial’ Garden

Feb 15, 2022

What is a ‘beneficial insect’?

There are any of a number of species of insects that perform valuable services like pollination and pest control. In agriculture, where the goal is to raise selected crops, insects that hinder the production process are classified as pests, while insects that assist production are considered ‘beneficial’.

In horticulture and gardening, ‘beneficial insects’ are often considered those that contribute to pest control and native habitat integration.

Encouraging beneficial insects, by providing suitable living conditions, is a pest control strategy, often used in organic farming, organic gardening or pest management.

This is where our experience begins.

A Task was Set

Alpine apprentices were set the task of increasing the population of beneficial insects in the nursery and ultimately transforming the front display garden into a haven for beneficial insects. The main aim of this project being to reduce the use of harsh chemical insecticides and introduce predatory insects to do the work for us.

A process was launched to identifying specific pests that were already present within the nursery, then research their predators (or beneficial insects) including which plants attract them. The Alpine team then designed specific locations along the entry driveway with beneficial insect attracting plants, incorporating landscape design into their project. It was a comprehensive project and one that the team would gain valuable experience.

Alpine apprentice Tahnee Moores comments: “We tried to select different perennials that flowered on a seasonal rotation so that our gardens had a constant supply of colour, and so that beneficial insects would be attracted to our site year-round”.

Not relying on nature alone, Alpine purchase live beneficial insects from “Bug for Bugs” and use gardens as “banker plants” or homes for the insects to then venture out and do their work. To date we have released 120,000 Persimilis, 100,000 Montdorensis and 1000 Adult Lace Wings in order to build a good population of beneficial insects to target Aphids, Mites, Psyllids, and Thrips.

The outcome

The project has surpassed expectations almost eliminating the need for cover sprays and reducing insecticide use to occasional spot sprays only.

When asked about the project, Alpine apprentice Monique Smith commented: “It was a really great experience and we each learned a lot. We broadened our knowledge on pests and predatory insects, Integrated Pest Management, and the positive outcomes of the implementation of biological control in a nursery and garden planning”.

Alpine apprentices with beneficial plants