Biological control of bugs

Yuck - I hate bugs - especially when they infest my indoor garden. I never had a problem with Whiteflies until I brought a pepper plant from outside into my indoor garden. What a mistake that was! I broke every rule of indoor gardening when I did that - I guess sometimes you ignore the warnings cause you assume "it won't happen to me" - I even inspected the plant outdoors and found it to be "apparently" free from critters. well I think you've already guessed the lesson here - KEEP YOUR INDOOR GARDEN FREE FROM OUTDOOR INVADERS!

Outside, the bugs most likely to infest your plants are controlled by natural predators. Inside, you have no such luck and without any natural enemies Whiteflies and spider mites can really get out of control quickly. The leaf at right is infested with Whitefly larvae - which will molt and become annoying little pests inside of seven days. Once the Whitefly larvae molts and gains wings, it will spread the infestation by laying eggs within just days and start the process all over again. The eggs only lie dormant for about ten days before hatching.

To take care of infestations, you need to be aware of the biological control options. I do not advocate the use of pesticides, even pyrethrin, which is made from flower extract, since they are number one toxic and number two - well - let's just say that pests actually build up a tolerance to them which only helps to breed stronger strains of pests. Biological control of pests means simply that we are limiting the negative impact of the pest population by introducing predator insects. It may sound like adding fire to the fire to introduce another insect to your garden but the predator insect population is controlled by the amount of food available, in this case say Whiteflies. So as the predator insects eat up the enemy, their population naturally decreases as the food goes with them. A perfect solution if you as me - nature at its finest!

There are a number of non-toxic methods you can employ to help limit pests both indoors and out, the best is to use yellow sticky traps which attract flies and keep them sticking around for a little longer than they'd of liked. You can make these with some yellow paint, cardboard strips and a jar of vaseline. Paint the strips, let 'em dry and then gob on the vaseline which will stick 'em just as well as glue.

Problem pest Predator solution

Whitefly Encarsia formosa

Two spotted spider mite Phytoseiulus persimilis

Aphids (pink, black & green) Lady bugs, Lacewings

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