It is well known within the sustainability movement that an integrated approach to pest control is the best way to go. Technically, the term is “Integrated Pest Management” (IPM), and it basically means applying several well-considered methods of control to address a pest problem.

If you are new to organic growing, the big change will be from the “silver bullet” approach (using one, highly potent chemical to achieve total eradication), to a “systems” approach; viewing a farm or garden (and it’s inhabitants) as a part of the greater ecosystem. This kind of systems approach will expand your view of how to address a problem to include cultural control (ie: physical manipulation of the environment by pruning, placement of plants, cleaning, etc.), biological control (ie: using natural enemies including insect predators, disease, and parasites), and applying least-harmful pesticides derived from natural sources. IPM requires good conscientious observation, knowledge of pest life cycles, tolerance for minimal damage, and patience.

There are around a million species of insects, but humans consider less than 3% pests. Yet insects remain greatly undervalued. Instead of using chemical pesticides, which kill both good and bad insects, you can make your pest control more affordable by using beneficial insects.

There are a huge number of predators that attack aphids, white flies, cabbage worms, leaf miners, mole crickets, spider mites and others that may be eating your crops, lawns, and landscape plants.

The addition of certain plants to your farm will encourage biodiversity and a healthy population of beneficial insects that act as Mother Nature’s best organic pest control. They prey on pest insects or, in some cases, parasitize them. Tachinid flies, for example, lay eggs in the heads of caterpillars and then the larvae hatch and tunnel into their host, quickly killing them.

Many insects are beneficial to the farm. These helpful creatures aid in decomposing plant material and plant waste and breaking it down into fertilizer, pollinate crops, aerate and improve soil and devour pests which are harmful to your crops. For this reason, you should consider keeping them around and also manage them properly.

Good gardening. . .