Plants and bugs that fight garden pests
Ladybugs and cauliflower are just some of the natural allies environmentally conscious gardeners are using in their fight against garden pests.
Some bugs and plants will even fight garden pests for you.
A flower, like the alyssum, attracts microscopic wasps that are not harmful to humans, but kill aphids -- small bugs that suck the sap from the stems and leaves of various plants.
Another aphid predator is the ladybug. If you encourage them to stay in your garden, your plants will flourish as a result.
In fact, the vast majority of the bugs in your garden are good guys, according to Dr. Janice Elmhirst, who headed the B.C. Pest Diagnostic lab for four years.
Even bugs that may chew a leaf should not worry you, she said.
"Most plants can compensate even for caterpillars, which do a lot of chewing," she said.
Since trees and plants have lots of leaves, spraying to kill bad bugs can make things worse.
"Often you end up killing the beneficial (bugs) too," Elmhirst explained.
"They weren't your targets. They are what we call non-target species," she said. "Then all of a sudden you can get a new pest coming up that you didn't expect."
It's called a secondary outbreak -- and can be worse than the original problem.
Derrill Thompson from the Burnaby Allotment Gardens, which has 373 plots, has several natural strategies to keep bugs in balance.
In fact, they only use one spray in the allotment gardens -- a copper spray for tomatoes.
Thompson recommends companion gardening -- using plants to either attract good bugs or repel bad ones.
"Chrysanthemums, stuff like that, marigolds, will defend against certain insects and pests," he explains.
Thompson also uses physical barriers.
For example, he covers his cauliflower with cloth to keep bugs out and protects his carrots from flies by building a box around them -- and then covers it with an old skylight.
"I always say grow 50 per cent for yourself, and 50 per cent for nature," Thompson added.
The key is creating a place where bug diversity is high and balanced, which limits the opportunity for any major outbreak to happen.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen