There are natural predators that can help control your garden pests such as slugs, snails, aphids and weevils and because they’re non-toxic are safe for users, their children and pets plus wildlife such as birds or hedgehogs.
The most commonly know garden eco pest control are birds, hedgehogs, frogs and toads though there are millions of other smaller creatures living in our gardens, some so small that you can only see them under the microscope.
Ladybirds have a voracious appetite for aphids and can each eat several hundred a day. The larvae which look a bit like black maggots with stubby legs are equally voracious aphid killers.
Hoverfly larvae which look even more like maggots grab the greenfly and suck out their juices before discarding the inedible skin. The larvae can consume about 100 aphids a day. The adult insects although resembling bees and wasps are sting less and totally harmless as its name suggests, hover in the air and are useful plant pollinators.
Lacewing larvae have two hollow pincers that grab and puncture the aphid and then suck out the juices before discarding the inedible skin.
The adult insect has large lace-like wings and brilliant green eyes. The females lay their eggs on the end of delicate stalks which they attached to the underside of leaves and branches where the aphids are feeding.
Wasps are the tigers in the air and although maybe considered a pest eat a large number of aphids and caterpillars.
Ground beetles come in various sizes and colour ranging from black to greens to violet. They are very useful predators of slugs, snails, chafer grubs, leatherjacket larvae, weevil larvae and caterpillars.
Smaller still are the parasitic wasps that parasitize aphids and caterpillars.
They lay their eggs in the host body. The grubs then consume the prey from the inside and emerge later in the year to repeat they cycle
Even smaller still are the tiny nematode worms.
These live in the soil and are so minute you can only see them under a microscope. These tiny microscopic worms seek out slugs and kill them.
This happens when the slugs are underground. They enter the slug’s body through a hole behind their heads. Once inside they release a bacteria which stops the slug eating. The nematodes then start to reproduce inside the slug. The nematodes continue to reproduce as the body breaks down. This new population enters the soil and searches out new slugs to attack. Although it’s not very nice for the slugs it means that if a bird or hedgehog were to eat an infected slug it won’t kill them or their young as might happen if they ate a slug that was dying after eating slug pellets.
I’ve made a website with pest and diseases plus beneficial garden wildlife. Please see www.rightplants4me.co.uk