Ecological solutions For Your Italian Garden

ladybug eating plants 

ladybug larvae

Above: Ladybug eats aphids                           

Above: Ladybug larvae eats even more

Often a garden full of insects and brimming with natural life can

seem somehow out of control and, to some, even full of potential garden

pests. However a garden that is able to find a harmony with its surrounding

landscape is more likely to find a positive balance between garden pests

and their natural garden predator. There are many garden pests from

aphids (greenfly) to caterpillars and larvae and like anything else

in nature each one has it’s own natural predator…

Ichneumons wasp eats caterpillars    

Ichneumons wasp eats caterpillars

Above: The Ichneumons wasp is a voracious hunter of caterpillars.

In nature there are many battles taking place simultaneously, there

are ants protecting, moving and milking aphids for a payment of the

sugary honey-dew, produced from their rear-end.

ants protect aphids in exchange for honeydew  

ants aphids honeydew

Above: Ants protecting their flocks of aphids          

Above: Ant receiving honeydew payment

There are many fly and beetle larvae feeding upon and aphids, caterpillars

and other pests. By far the most famous of these hunters is the ladybird

but there are many others, such as the simple hoverfly, whose larva

is also a voracious hunter of aphids…

fly up close  

hoverfly eats aphid

Above: Hoverfly in flight.                        

Above: Hoverfly larvae eats aphid

Then there are the rarer, more complex natural predators, such as

the lacewing and its larvae, who both feast on aphids. The adult lacewing

is even able to sense the sonar of passing bats, such is it’s precision

as a hunter…

lacewing macro  

lacewing macro

Above and right: Adult lacewing and its larvae.

There are many mechanisms operating in nature and its aim is always

to find a balance between hunter and hunted and only when this balance

is achieved in a garden can we hope to achieve a natural, balanced beauty.

Many of these hunters can now be bought, even online, and buying them

clearly makes more sense than simply spraying away all these wonderful

natural mechanisms with powerful pesticides… indiscriminately!

bat  

lacewing senses bat sonar

Above: A pipistrell bat and a lacewing that closes it’s wings and

falls when it senses the sonar of a bat.

By Jonathan Radford

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