How to Attract Beneficial Insects to Your Garden

Jeff Aldrich, Ph.D. discusses garden health, natural pest control and how to attract beneficial insects to Your garden.

| February/March 2003

Learn how to attract beneficial insects to your garden.

Make a homemade trap to collect these soldier bugs in early spring, then release them to control all kinds of garden pests.

As alternatives to toxic pesticides, scientists have developed a number of nontoxic lures to attract and trap pest insects. Perhaps most familiar are the Japanese beetle lures and traps. But these arid other pest lures usually don't work very well on the small scale of a home garden because they actually may attract more pests than initially were present.

There is one lure, developed by Jeff Aldrich, an entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that attracts one of the best beneficial insects. Aldrich invites MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers to help hire test this nifty homemade Soldier Bug Trap arid Nursery Technique. — MOTHER.

Spined soldier bugs (Podisus maculiventris) are valuable beneficial insects in home gardens because they prey on a multitude of pests, including Mexican bean beetles, cabbage loopers, diamondback moths, army worms and other caterpillars, flea beetles and Colorado potato beetles. When prey is not available, soldier bugs survive by feeding on plant sap, without significantly harming the plant.

Spined soldier bugs can be found throughout the United States and Canada. They are more common in the East, especially around deciduous forests and meadows, which provide natural prey and cover for the adults to survive the winter.

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