Using alfalfa as a cover crop between garden plants has resulted not only in improved soil but also in hosting a variety of beneficial critters to control pests.
I love the insects1 in my garden! Each day I am excited to see the growth of the garden and who is playing in it. Last year I experimented with using alfalfa as a cover crop between my plants. Not only did this eliminate space for weeds, improve the soil, provide a wind brake, host a little shade from the Texas sun, but it provided cover for beneficial insects. I am impressed with the results, and continue to use it.
Some of the alfalfa made it through the winter, and some I replanted in early spring. Organic practices, such as abstaining from the use of chemical insecticides, is not always easy. Last year I had an infestation of the dreaded blister beetles and rather than spraying the garden with chemicals, I manually picked out what seemed like billions of these stinkers. If you have ever been hit with blister beetles you know how they can be a test of patience and resolve.
This spring I was really excited when I found a handsome crew of beneficial insects in my garden. The neighbors might have been surprised to see me with a big smile, yelling “YES, bugs in the garden!” then doing a little victory dance. Maybe these critters overwintered 2, or maybe they just found the garden, whatever the case, I am grateful for their presence.
Here are some of the stars.
- A Lady Beetle (Coccinellidae) larva. Fast moving and hard working.
- A Lady Beetle (Coccinellidae) pupa. Sessile (immobile) but still working hard, in this case working on becoming an adult.
- An adult Lady Beetle (Coccinellidae).
- A spider taking care of a caterpillar pest. There is also another visible lady beetle larva.
- Here is what looks like a Robber Fly eating a Leafhopper.
- These guys are ambitious. I was cutting the grass when this rather large spider came out to see if I was fit for a meal.
- The invertebrates are not alone, I have other helpers too.
I am so happy to have my Beneficial Bug Brigade. I hope they continue to enjoy their stay. :-)
What beneficials do you have?