We introduced organic gardening and the vegetables that you can grow in it in a previous blog post. This post will concentrate on the pests that will affect your garden or greenhouse.
What are the most damaging insect pests of organically grown crops?
Various kinds insect pests including aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, beetles, caterpillars, cucumber beetles, leaf miners, thrips, whiteflies attack and damage various types of plant species that are grown in organic gardens.
Photo of a white grub found in the lawn. You can treat white grubs with nematodes.
What are the natural enemies of insect pests of organically grown crops?
The natural enemies include beneficial insects and insect-parasitic (entomopathogenic) nematodes. When your garden is infested with a specific type of insect pest, a specific kind of beneficial insect (the natural predator of the pest) is naturally attracted to your garden. However, the population of these naturally occurring beneficial insects may not be sufficient to suppress the pest population. In this case, you need to buy commercially cultured beneficial insects from producers and release them in your garden for the management of insect pests.
The following are beneficial insects which are commercially available for specific insect problems.
Insect-Parasitic nematodes: These beneficial nematodes are also called entomopathogenic nematodes, which are commercially available and effective against soil dwelling stages of many insect pests including cutworms, white grubs and weevil larvae. Although these nematodes are naturally occurring in some of the gardens, in most of the gardens you need to apply commercially obtained nematodes to manage your insect problem.
Wasps (Brachonids, Chalcids and Ichneumon): These wasps are considered as beneficial insects because they kill caterpillars that feed on leaves of your plants. These wasps are generally attracted to your garden planted with carrots, celery or parsley.
Lacewings: Both adults and larvae of this beneficial insects feed and destroy populations of aphids, which is a most damaging pest of many succulent plant species including tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes etc.
Ladybugs: These are commonly known beneficial insects that can feed on all stages of aphids, mites, whiteflies, mealybugs and scale insects.
Praying Mantis: These beneficial insects feed on many insect pests including moths, crickets, and grasshoppers.