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12 CHOICES – PLANTING A DEFENSE

Two previous articles provided tips on surviving stinging flying insects. Summer Fun: Taking the Sting Out deals with preventing pests from taking up residence. Getting Rid of the Swell shares a recipe for a natural repellant. Another natural defense against flying, stinging insects, such as wasps and bees, involves choosing the right plants to border your home and patio.

A European honey bee (Apis mellifera) extracts...

Keep in mind that your don’t want to kill hoards of these insects even though they’re pests.  After all the bees’ absence impact our flowers and food supply; and other insects eat to keep that species population down and stop them from eating our gardens and flowers.  With that in mind, we just want to discourage the stinging pests from camping out near the places we often inhabit.  

If flowers or plants with a sweet aroma sit around entryways, patio or deck, move these nectar producing plants if you’re concerned with flying insects. These plants attract them. The same goes for any tree or plant producing anything with an enticing sweetness.

Eucalyptus - public domain photo

It appears that herb plants with distinct aromas work well. Often people think of eucalyptus and citronella plants. Thyme is also a good one. Plus, as a bonus with thyme, you can snip off some for cooking. All are good at warding off pests if you’re wearing the aroma, or burning from a diffuser or candle. According to some nurseries, these plants’ effectiveness as repellents require planting lots of them in one spot.  Check with your local nursery on care information and best results for your geographic location.

Marigolds via public domain

Marigolds reportedly have an aroma (Tagetes spp) that turn flying pests off. These pretty flowers come in many colors. Marigolds fit in well with other flowers. Neither bees nor wasps like mint (peppermint, spearmint, etc.). It’s a hardy plant requiring little maintenance. Experts recommend keeping mint in pots as, like wild flowers, mint has a tendency to spread and take over a spot.

Marigold

 

If you like shrubs around the house, consider wormwood.  The same substance,  absinthe, that makes this plant poisonous also wards off the pests, wasps in particular. For this plant, it’s important to check with a nursery to decide where to plant and what other plants/flowers shouldn’t be near it. That same absinthe could kill surrounding flora after a rain storm as run-off.

All of these plants have specific care needs, but seem easy to grow and maintain (read: not kill).

The insectivorous plants are the undisputed champions to control flying pests. These carnivorous beauties are climbing evergreens. With these plants near your doorways, patios, etc., their receptacles’ siren songs entice the pests come in and never go out. Although they do kill them, at least it’s part of the circle of life! And, I think that the critters learn to steer clear after a few of them don’t return from scouting missions! These plants attract the flying insects through nectar and subterfuge.

Insectivorous (carnivorous) plants have a bizarre appearance, but have a strange beauty also. Experts strongly suggest that carnivorous plants be purchased from a knowledgeable and reputable grower. The reason:  uprooting these plants from their habitat has resulted in habitat destruction and over-collection. At any rate, the grower or expert nursery can ensure a healthier plant and offer maintenance instructions.

North American Pitcher Plant via clker.com

 


The carnivorous pitcher plant’s leaves form “pitchers” or “cups” containing intoxicating nectar. Insects fly in, get trapped and the plant’s leaves fold over on the pest. Digestive enzymes do the rest—the circle of life.

Green Pitcher plant -public domain photo

 

The insectivorous sundew has its own delicate and deadly beauty. Sundews’ also produces an alluring nectar.

Sundew Plant - public domain photo

However, it has glistening, brightly colored stalks as an added attraction. The stalks give the illusion of dew. Insects land and get stuck on the sticky stalks. Enter digestive enzymes.

Sundew plant - via public domain/DO'Donnel

 

 

 

 

 

Other carnivorous varieties to investigate:


  • Butterworts sport leaves covered in stalked glands that give off sticky nectar.

  • Venus fly traps feature leaves that snap close when insects enter.

  • The bladder-shaped leaves of bladderworts imprison them too.

  • Corkscrew plants trap insects in twisted tubular channels.

Carnivorous plants are reportedly easy to grow. Certainly, they will be a conversation starter at your next barbecue.  Check out Growing Carnivorous Plants to decide if these pest eliminating, strangely alluring plants might be the answer.  The following care articles provide information that is specific to the pitcher and sundew: http://www.wikihow.com/Grow-Pitcher-Plants, http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Gardening/diggin-it/2011/0125/Pitcher-plants-are-native-carnivorous-and-fun-to-grow and www.thegardenhelper.com/sundew.html.


©2012 DLewis

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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Tips, Uncategorized

 

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SUMMER FUN: TAKING THE STING OUT

Glorious spring is here. Along with creatures who inspire fear and loathing disproportionate to their size. Despite those stingers. Unwelcome wasps, hornets, dirt daubers, bees and the like. We’ve learned from the bees. We don’t get to kill hoards of them (hereafter: pests!). They do rid defenseless plants of bugs. Instead, arm yourself with some tips and non-chemical repellents.

 

Get rid of any old, deserted nests. Pests won’t reuse. But, the nest’s scent serves as a signal beacon for the pest to return. It also deters other fellow travelers from squatting in the vacant homestead. Once rid of the nests, treat the area with a deterrent. Do the same for dirt daubers and hornets.

DO THIS BEFORE THE WEATHER TURNS WARM AND PESTS COME TO RECLAIM THEM. GET PROFESSIONAL ADVICE ON THE BEES. From personal experience, I know that dirt dauber nests can be destroyed in season. Stand several feet away with hose nozzle on full blast and eradicate.

 

Avoid planting nectar and sweet sap producing vegetation close to the house. Or, near places you plan to spend time. That especially includes fruit trees. This might entail relocating some plants. The lengths you employ depend on your fear and past infestation levels. Also, avoid keeping trash bags near the house unless in a sealed trash can. Avoid sweet perfumes if you sit outside.  Also, use a natural repellent spray. These are available almost everywhere. Also, check out the next segment for a recipe for DIY natural repellent skin spray.

 

But back to safeguarding your off-limits zone. My mother used moth balls to repel the pests. Horrid smell if you get too close. The wasps agree. Line up 3-5 moth balls. Wrap, and completely enclose, balls in a cloth. Tack 2-3 of these packets in the off-limits area. If you only want to keep them away from entryways, one packet might suffice. Inexpensive and readily available, even in grocery stores.

To avoid an unsightly appearance, match the cloth color to the area. Mother used cheap dark brown pantyhose or knee highs. She tacked these to her dark brown patio soffit. Moth ball crystals are even less noticeable. You might also use mesh bags and hang either from hooks. The placement under a covering keeps very little, if any, of the mothballs from getting into the ground.

 

Ambitious types can treat any wood around the pest-free zone. This could include wood on the residence and wooden furniture/fixtures.                                                                                                                                          Mix equal parts of three essential oils—eucalyptus, menthol, and citronella—in teak oil. Wear gloves. Apply lightly. Avoid saturation.

 

If pests occupy your off-limits area in droves or none of the above works, check out the many pest traps available. Traps cost $10-$15. Do this as a last resort. You don’t want to be part of the problem when we discover the effect of a world without these pests. Also, check out the upcoming post on plant repellents and traps. At least the natural plants devouring the carcass serve the eco system.

 

Waspinator natural wasp repellent

Some people swear by the paper wasp nests. Somewhat like the paper Chinese lanterns. You hang them in the affected areas. The fake nests serve a similar function as scarecrows, fake owls and whirlybirds do for birds. With a twist. Wasps, and like creatures, are territorial. They won’t venture near an established nest. That’s right.  Scare the suckers. Without a need for chemicals or baits. No one has to die or swell. 

Shop for the fake nests, such as the Waspinator and Wasp Repellent Decoy, on Amazon.com or their respective sites: www.hsn.com and contec-inc.com. Fake nests run $10-$15/two pack.

Wasp Repellent Decoy

Take note if a nest already exists in the off-limits area. The pests have marked their territory. Wasps in residence will take no mind of the fake nests.

 

In above circumstance, you have to get rid of the live nest.  If you try this, be careful. Experts recommend that you treat (natural spray or douse) wasp nests either at dusk or early morning. Foam sprays with a several foot range would be my choice.  

Make sure you’re agile. Wear loose clothing and a hat to cover yourself.  Don’t leave any areas for the pests to fly into. So socks over pants. Long sleeves buttoned or tied. Collars secured. Hat over ears. Wear loose clothing otherwise. If a pest lands on your clothing, it’s likely the pest won’t reach skin if it stings.

Personally, even armed as above,  dusk is too close to DARK for me. Although, supposedly either time ensures that all the wasps are home. Also, there is less risk of being stung. 

I suggest calling in a professional for mature or significant nest(s).  DO NOT DISTURB BEE HIVES YOURSELF.  CALL IN A PROFESSIONAL FROM THE GET GO.

 

However, if you’re foolish—I mean courageous enough to go for the other nests, come back for the next installment:

GETTING RID OF THE SWELL – home treatments for stings (including a recipe for the natural repellant skin spray)

Followed by:

PLANTING A DEFENSE – nature’s offerings to repel pests                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ©2011 DLewis

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2011 in Environment, Tips, Uncategorized

 

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