Bees and organic growing
The top five pests targeted by neonicotinoids (and how to control them in a bee friendly way)
Neonicotinoids can be found in various garden products aimed at controlling 5 pests of the garden: aphid, whitefly, vine weevil, thrips and butterflies. But, as we know, neonicotinoids and the products that contain them, are killing the bees. So, to find out how to keep your garden pests at bay whilst staying on the good side of our furry flying friends, here are our top five tips:
- Don’t panic! Chances are, if you have a low level of pests in your garden it’s keeping the predators happy by providing them with a meal or two. Pests are essential to your garden in order to maintain the balance of keeping other animals alive - without them, those animals might not survive. Of course, there is a difference between seeing one cabbage white butterfly and losing your entire crop of kale. Each pest and crop will present you with a different situation and there may be a point where you need to take action to save your plants.
- Swap the harmful chemicals for bee friendly biological replacements such as nematodes for vine weevil or BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) for cabbage whites. Biological replacements should be an effective way to keep these specific pests at bay.
- If you feel that biological replacements aren’t doing the job, chemical options such as soft soap can be used. Unlike biological controls these are not targeted at a particular pest - but they can be good at quickly reducing an infestation. You can then go in with the biological replacement afterwards to keep the numbers down for the rest of the season.
- Cultural changes such as netting and hoovering (using little hoovers that you might use to clean your car) could be the answer. These options are good because they have no impact on the plant at all, other than to reducing the number of pests nibbling away.
- For the more hardcore gardeners out there, consider alternative systems that build a diverse and balanced ecosystem where pests are under control. Getting a wide range of habitats into your garden is the best way to encourage a wide range of predators. This also includes having access to fresh water and shelter. Some areas of permanent planting – whether trees or perennial plants, will help to contribute to your garden habitat. And last, but by no means least, don’t forget to plant some bee-friendly flowers to keep the pollinators happy!