The pest/predator swings and round-abouts

Pest alert after a mild winter and spring

Winter frosts often kill off many pests so there are fewer around – a smaller population – to start breeding as the weather warms up. Good value for gardeners as it takes a while for pests to hatch, find food and reproduce.

When there are few frosts pests can survive over winter hiding in the garden. As the weather warms up, they are ready and eager to feed, reproduce and – gee – suddenly there’s an explosion of a pest population. Aphids, scale, white fly and others.

pests-graph

An early start to warmer weather also gives pests more time to breed up, as well as a greater number of them to start with.

This mild winter has given us few frosts here in South Auckland.

There are aphids hiding in the lettuces.

  • I spray with water [gently as lettuces are delicate] to dislodge them.
  • And pick lots of leaves so there are fewer places for aphids to hide!
  • And see if I can deter the ants which ‘farm’ aphids onto tasty plants so they can collect the excreted sweet honey-dew from the aphids, scale, etc.

To help control the potential population explosion, I’ll look out for predator friends

  • ladybirds – adults and their juvenile forms -who would believe this juvenile form was really a ladybird!
Adult predatory ladybird
Adult predatory ladybird
Juvenile ladybirds eating tiny green aphids
Juvenile predatory ladybird
  • Preying mantis -new-hatched and, later, adults
Adult preying mantis
Adult predatory preying mantis
New born preying mantis climbing up the bird-netting - so tiny!
New born preying mantis climbing on the bird-netting – so tiny!
  • Weta! Very special part of our garden, and a joy to find.
New Zealand Weta - a great predator!
New Zealand Weta – many are predators – and how it came into our kitchen is a mystery.
  • small birds which eat pests
  • Are there small lizards, frogs, hedgehogs?

All predators to balance populations of pests appreciated here!

It takes time in spring for predator populations to breed too. They need to emerge from where they over-wintered, find food, find a mate, lay eggs which grow into the new generation.

So there is often a lag between pest and predator populations finding a balance.

pests-predators-graph

This is the time when our efforts to keep pest populations down yield most results.

Pest control methods which don’t affect predators is really important for us as we want to bring a balance, an equilibrium, between pests and predators in our garden.

That way, our support predator populations take over the role of keeping pests mostly in check, at manageable levels. So we also get a harvest for our efforts.

It’s all about swings and roundabouts!

Some pests to feed our predator population, and not so much we lose all our harvest.

 

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