15 Jan PEST PLANNING: HOW TO BRING IN THE GOOD BUGS
We hear about the value of beneficial bugs in the garden all the time, and as gardeners, we want to do what we can to make sure our gardens are hospitable for these welcomed critters. But what if you don’t have the time or inclination to add to your garden routine in order to draw these bugs in? Are you just out of luck? Thankfully, no, because there are lots of places to buy bugs online. Here’s what you need to know before putting in your bug order.
PEST PLANNING THIS SEASON: HOW TO BRING IN THE GOOD BUGS
Timing is everything. You’ll want to release your beneficial bugs at the first sign of problems, but if your problem is out of control, try using organic pest control methods first before releasing your bugs. Insecticidal soaps, botanical insecticides, and horticultural oils work well to establish control before releasing your predators. After receiving your bugs, follow the package directions closely for how to release them correctly — some bugs have different requirements!
Research reputable sellers. With projects like these, I always ask my gardener friends or my county extension office their recommendations of mail order companies or local garden centers that have the bugs I’m looking for. Some companies or garden centers have better reputations than others for delivering quality bugs safely to you, and for standing by their product.
Know what bugs you need. There are a number of beneficial insects that you can buy online, from ladybugs and lacewing eggs to praying mantis, red wigglers, and soldier bugs. It’s helpful to know what kinds of pests are typically attracted to the plants in your garden (did you have a particular infestation last year?) and plan ahead to order the correct parasite or predator. The company you are dealing with can help you make the right choice for your garden or problem, and assist you in determining the proper quantity to order.
Know what you’re getting. Your whitefly parasites may be shipped as mature pupae in eggs while red wigglers could be in various stages of growth and ladybugs shipped in bags with wood shavings. The company you’re dealing with will have detailed information about how each type of bug is shipped and what they will look like.
Be prepared to receive your order in person. Because of the nature of the product, many companies will ensure a 2-day delivery, but it’s important that you are present in person to receive the order when it arrives. These are “live shipments” that cannot and should not be left on a doorstep while you’re on vacation in Hawaii. If you’re not able to be home during the day for the delivery (hey, you work for a living), ask a neighbor to receive it or have it delivered to your work address.