Lately, I’ve heard many people mentioning how happy they are that the cold weather we have recently had will mean less pest problems this season. That would be nice, but unfortunately, I doubt that the pest populations are going to be much smaller. Most insects, especially the ones we don’t like, can sometimes be the hardest to get rid of.
Insects are survivors. In cold weather, many will lay eggs in the ground while others may lay their eggs in warm sheltered areas. Most ant colonies seal the entrances to their mounds when cold weather arrives. In cold weather, some ants will cluster together in large groups to stay warm and to keep their queens warm. Insects will sometimes hide in rotting logs or tree trunks while some will bury themselves in the ground. Some will even sneak into our homes or other human structures to stay warm.
This is the time of year we can start our beneficial preventative insect releases. Even though Trichogramma wasps are so small, with a wing span of only 1/50 of an inch, they are still very beneficial. These tiny parasitic wasps can be a huge help in eradicating the eggs of over 200 varieties of moths and their destructive caterpillars. These wasps are efficient destroyers of the eggs of many types of caterpillars such as army worms, cabbage loppers, cutworms, bores, tent caterpillars, web worms and others. This is the time to start releasing the Trichogramma wasp in your landscape.
Beneficial nematodes are another very popular and easy way to help get rid of soil borne insect pests. They will not cause any harmful effects on our earthworms, our animals or our plants. When applied at the right time, these beneficial helpers get rid of pests in the soil or on the ground such as grubs, fleas, ticks, thrips, termites, mole crickets, beetles, bag worms, wireworms and more. These good guys can be applied to your soil at any time.
Until next time, let’s all try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.
Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to [email protected] or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.