A handful of Insecta-Flora can help to attrach beneficial insects
Insecta-Flora is a flower seed blend that blooms through the seasons and years providing habitat for beneficial insects. Clovers and alfalfa are great habitat plants, but sometimes the showy look of Insecta-Flora containing less grass and legumes is preferred to the ever-popular and less expensive Beneficial Blend. Insecta Flora comes in Low (up to a foot high), Standard, and High (3 foot high). The Low mix provides nitrogen-fixing and erosion control as well as habitat.
Insecta-Flora as a vineyard covercrop in California.
Smaller beneficial insects will fly a couple hundred feet to an island of flowers that keep them going. Enhancing an upwind vineyard border yields a beneficial welcoming committee for invading pests. Covering bare ground with beneficial habitat mixes cuts heat reflection and dust to prevent spider mite problems. Mow or weed-whip half at a time and then the other half a few weeks later to concentrate the beneficials without driving them away. Wait until the flowers set to encourage reseeding.
Visit our Beneficial Materials Catalog at rinconvitova.com for more information.
You can also download our Insecta-Flora Bulletin as a PDF.
This article originally appeared in our Biocontrol Beat Winter 2008 Newetter.
Lacewing larvae feeding on Aphid (Photo © Rincon Vitova Insectaries, Inc.)
An efficient green lacewing larva might consume 350 aphids, 11,200 spider mites or 3,780 scale crawlers! They are good at cleaning up eggs and young larvae of many beetles and caterpillars, mealybugs, whiteflies, thrips, leafhoppers and more without wasting time eating the whole thing. They drink the juice and toss away the exoskeleton terminating the prey before moving on. They compete in endurance as well, walking seven miles as larvae. Launch these hungry long-distance runners in pest hotspots.
To sustain these general predators, first control ants by baiting their runs or turn mounds inside out. Then cultivate habitat for beneficials. Corn stalks and sunflowers when shaken at dusk in the peak of bloom will send lacewing fluttering overhead. Borders of alfalfa and oilseed Brassicas, Beneficial Blend or Insecta-Flora seed mixes support lacewing and other natural enemies.
For more info, check out our Lacewing Bulletin on at rinconvitova.com.
This article originally appeared in our Biocontrol Beat Winter 2008 Newsletter.