We are now in full spring - with temperatures predicted to be in the 80's this week. The last of the winter crops are giddy with energy and the early spring crops are growing "gangbusters."
There was a day last week when every aphid in Dixon decided to move onto our fava beans. But the same week, we also noticed a "bloom" of ladybugs! With all of the ladybugs, we are thinking that it must be breeding season for them - of course it'd be nice if they all like our gardens more than the neighbors'....
The ladybugs are beneficial insects and can eat over 5,000 aphids during their lifetime! It's awesome to have a natural population in your garden, but these days, many of the nurseries carry ladybugs you can purchase and release in your garden.
Last year we also had a nice population of praying mantis. There must have been a nest somewhere near the house - since we saw many small mantis' near the front garden and larger ones later in the season throughout all of the gardens. Praying mantis do a great job eating the nuisance insects but apparently are not too picky about whom they eat - so they sometimes consume other beneficial insects.
A summer without flies?! That's what we're hoping. And hope really won't help at all - we signed up to receive Fly Predators on a monthly basis this year to help control the fly population at the farm. Biological pest control - we receive a certain number of fly predator eggs based on the number and kind of animals we have. It'd be great if the chickens and ducks ate all of the fly larvae but in reality - they don't. Once the fly predators hatch they start seeking out & feeding on fly larvae. We'll always have adult flies, but if we manage the fly "bloom" at the larvae stage, we can manage the adult population, too.
WELCOME - Ladybugs, Praying Mantis and Fly Predators!
Here's a good website on beneficial insects.