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Planting a variety of flowering plants that bloom throughout the spring and summer gives you a beautiful garden, and can also reduce the number of garden pests. Many commonly available plants— including drought tolerant plants—attract beneficial insects that feed on pests you don’t want around!
Beneficial insects are the ultimate non-toxic pest control. And they do all of the work for you! Soldier beetles, syrphid flies, and ladybugs and their larvae attack aphids. Lacewings will go after just about any insect pest.
Learn what beneficial insects look like in their various stages of development. People often kill juvenile ladybugs and other good bugs by mistake.
Go to http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/NE/index.html to see what beneficial insects look like as “babies” and adults.
Use pesticides only as a last resort. If you must use a pesticide, choose the least toxic product designed to kill the specific target pest. Bees and other beneficial insects are often more sensitive to pesticides than the pests you want to kill. What’s worse, after pesticide use has eliminated the beneficial insects, the pests are free to multiply… and you’ll need to spray again.
These plants are rich in pollen and nectar, and will attract beneficial insects and pollinators—like bees and butterflies.
Plant for success! Many of the plants that attract beneficial insects are California natives that should do well here. It’s important to learn about your garden—what type of soil you have and how much sunlight you get throughout the day and during different seasons—and choose plants that fit in.
Knowing your plant’s needs for water, pruning, and fertilizer will help you keep your garden healthy.
Even drought-tolerant plants need regular water to become established. During their first two growing seasons, water new plants deeply twice a week so that their roots will grow down into the soil. You may have to water young plants more often during hot weather.
Beware of invasive species like these:
For a list of more plants to avoid, go to the California Invasive Plant Council Website: www.cal-ipc.org/paf/