By Carly Hatfield
We all seem to appreciate the work of the honeybee, who pollinates over one hundred crops useful to humans. The butterfly and the hummingbird are loved for all their glamour and whimsy, even the moth receives appreciation for her nocturnal duties. Yet humankind seems to forget about the less adorable, so-called pests that make our world go around; where ere is their applause?
The Fig Wasp for example, pollinates Fig trees exclusively. I for one have feelings of gratitude because I enjoy fig jam very much. Wasps also serve as predators, who keep the delicate balance of our food chain, I say “our food chain”, because us humans tend to forget that we are members of this system, we are not an abstract part that operates outside of this system. When pollinators disappear, we very well could be next in line.
Hoverflies, which resemble a yellowjacket are most likely swatted away or worse, sprayed with chemicals. These Hoverflies are very important as the adults feed on pollen and nectar while their larvae are predators of thrips and aphids.
Tomato hornworms are quite a pest when they are found exploring one’s vegetable garden, but Brachonid wasps lay eggs on the backs of hornworms creating a white cocoon. The wasp larvae will eat the hornworm from inside out to gain nutrients and will continue their good work of guarding the vegetable garden.
Trichogramma pretiosum wasps lay their eggs in the eggs of other insects, preventing them from hatching. Again, using parasitic talents to control garden pests. These wasps do not sting humans and are about the size of a speck of dust. Yarrow, mints and lemon balm are all attractors of these mighty little wasps.
Keeping a garden healthy does not require chemicals but requires consideration for our food chain system. Working within this system will prove more sustainable and satisfying when the garden is abuzz with beneficial insects quietly doing their thankless work which will leave less work for the owner of such a prolifically diverse garden that has unmeasurable reward.