The Simple Things….continued

I started off my Friday post with a quote from a previous post about “sometimes doing the simple thing is also the best thing for our pollinators.” I sort of intended that post to be about pollinators and then it wasn’t. Sometimes that’s how it works out.

What I had in mind there was that rather than bringing out the big old can of spray every time we see a weed or an insect, there are really much easier approaches to dealing with both. I know I’ve talked about my “Freedom Lawn” (aka lawn full of weeds like clover and violets) as being a lawn that’s beneficial to lots of pollinators.

In preparing an upcoming lecture on pollinators, however, I was a little startled to discover that 5 different species of butterflies, as well as my beloved ants, use the clover and violets as food sources. And I know I talked last year about how the clover was sort of “detouring” the rabbits away from some of my perennials and vegetables. It’s working so far this year as well (with a little encouragement for my rescue dog, Amie, as well!). That’s what I call freedom!

I’ve also talked in the past about how some customers in my retail gardening past would come to me, puzzled, because they would have no vegetables in their gardens. I would ask them if they saw any bees and they’d say no. Then I’d ask about their insecticide use and inevitably they’d be doing a chemical 4 step lawn program and a grub program and probably something else as well.

So I’d try to gently explain that bees were very susceptible to pesticides–the grub control in particular most likely was one of those dreaded neonicotinoid type pesticides–and that they might be working at cross purposes by at best driving away all the bees and at worst killing them. I’d say that if they didn’t want to be hand-pollinating their crops they might want to back away from the pesticide use a little.

This was always very unwelcome news and was usually resisted quite strenuously. And then I’d tell my story about the butterflies. It’s really simple and very effective.

The year before we got married–but I was dating my husband and gardening on the property–I noticed there were no butterflies.  Hmm, I thought, this is strange. What’s wrong here? So I started to read up on them and found that they were very susceptible to pesticides. At that point, way back in 1994, I decided that we weren’t going to use any because I’d rather have butterflies than perfection.

By 1996, when I applied for certification as a backyard habitat, I counted 36 different butterflies and moths on the property. Technically that was only 2 springs without pesticides. It doesn’t take much. Stop using pesticides and they will come. It’s the simple things…..

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “The Simple Things….continued

  1. I so agree; I have not used any kind of pesticide in my gardens since the late 1990s (my ex-husband was a great one for chemicals and there was no dissuading him from their use, unfortunately). Subterranean termites are a problem in my area, and most people opt for sprays. However, I switched to the bait-station system when they first became available in the early 2000s. It is more expensive (initial outlay for installation) but it avoids spraying and targets only the one insect without impacting any others.

  2. Lots of people in our area have the carpenter ant problem. There really isn’t a good control for those and even the exterminators don’t guarantee their work unless they come and spray regularly every 6 months. I can’t agree to that kind of nonsense, particularly since we’re not seeing problems and there are ways to avoid it (by keeping trees trimmed back away from the house, for example).

    It’s interesting that “in the wild” the carpenter ants are good bugs–as are most things (termites would be as well, I think, helping to digest decaying wood).

    But of course move any of this into where we live and it’s unacceptable because it destroys what we we value–and there’s nothing wrong with that!

    Your solution with the bait stations seems very practical.

    Karla

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