|Thursday Tips & Techniques: Insectary Plants|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Thursday, 08 September 2011|
Insectary plants. Now there’s a term I hadn’t heard of until recently, but have actually referred to quite often--and I bet you have too. What are insectary plants? Providing food and shelter (i.e. habitats), insectary plants attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs, parasitic wasps, lacewigs, bees, butterflies, and hover flies to the garden. Many types of plants are used to attract beneficial insects including lavender, yarrow, cosmos, and angelica (pictured above).
Insectary plants are considered a form of natural pest control or IPM (integrated pest management) in that by using insectary plants you can reduce or eliminate the need for pesticides that harm both problem insects and beneficial ones. They provide food in the form of foliage for larvae to feed on as well as nectar and pollen. As with any “ecosystem”, diversity of plant species that bloom throughout the growing season is important as is maintaining healthy plants by avoiding overcrowding for example.
Insectary plants can be planted amongst the other plants in the garden or you can create a separate insectary garden. English lavender and many other flowers attract bees and butterflies, while common yarrow provides hosting for ladybugs, wasps, and hover flies. Lacewings, ladybugs, hover flies, and spiders prefer cosmos, a pretty, and easy to grow, annual that often reseeds. Sweet alyssum, often grown in rock gardens attracts hover flies and braconid wasps.
Photo source: zenera: http://flickr.com/photos/35237098471@N01/29028813