Question: How can I manage unwanted bugs in my garden without harming beneficial pollinators? – M. K.
Answer: Managing pests in the garden can be challenging. It would be great if undesirable pests could be completely avoided, but that is quite close to being impossible.
Many insecticide products on the market can be detrimental to beneficial insects, including pollinators, so care needs to be taken when selecting a product as well as to applying it. Diagnose the pest problem before applying any pesticides to be sure you are attacking the correct culprit using the best possible management method. In some instances, a pest infestation can be overlooked if in low populations and if it is not causing major issues. Only apply pesticides in accordance to label directions, and refrain from spraying on windy days to decrease the possibility of drift.
Consider planting resistant varieties, and when purchasing plants, inspect them for signs of pests or disease so you don’t introduce any pests into your gardens. Plant native flowering plants that can handle minor insect attacks; plus, they are good at attracting pollinators.
Use a combination of control methods, employing the concept of integrated pest management. Manually pick the unwanted pests from desirable plants. Remove the pest’s habitat, if possible. Introduce beneficial insects that can thwart the attempts of unwanted pests trying to infest your garden.
The important role of pollinators in our backyard gardens and in the agricultural industry is gaining lots of attention lately. Join the swarm and celebrate National Pollinator Week, June 20-26. Designated in 2007 by the USDA and the US Department of the Interior, Pollinator Week was established to increase awareness of the urgent issue of declining populations of pollinators. At the national award winning Kenosha County Center AAS Display & Demonstration Garden, this year’s theme in the AAS garden is “Pollinator Education”. In addition to the AAS winning plants growing in the gardens, visitors will have the opportunity to learn how to increase pollinators in their own yards. Pollinator posts are planted throughout the garden and contain information ranging from what makes a plant an attractive pollinator to how to identify native pollinators.
Visit the gardens at the Kenosha County Center (located at the intersection of Highways 45 & 50 in Bristol) during Pollinator Week or any time during the growing season. Stroll the paths, and ponder the prominence of pollinators.
Jeanne Hilinske-Christensen, M.S., is the Consumer Horticulture Educator for Kenosha County UW-Extension.