Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bees Help Foil the Caterpillar Buffet

A recent study shows that honeybees not only pollinate but also help protect plants from hungry caterpillars. Caterpillars detect the bees, stop munching or simply panic and drop from the plant, which also means they stop munching on your tomatoes, cabbage, peppers, etc.

Good plants to attract pollinators abound and range from the annual alyssum to perennial natives like Bee Balm. If space in the garden is tight, try containers for natives and annuals, or create a specific bed for them.

For other ideas and to learn more about attracting pollinators and other beneficials here are a few handy resources to get you going:

Enhancing Beneficial Insects with Native Plants - An MSU study outlining a recent study using native plants for more sustainable agriculture. It includes a great list of plants and their ratings in terms of pollinator attractiveness.

Great Garden Companions by Sally Jean Cunningham, Rodale Press, 2000 - An absolutely terrific book for learning and thinking about organizing your garden to attract beneficial insects. Includes lists of plants, design ideas, and terrific diagrams.

Introduction to Beekeeping - An upcoming Project Grow class on Saturday, March 14th that offers the full scoop on housing those little fuzzy buzzers yourself.

Landscaping with Native Plants - Learn how to incorporate native plants into your current landscape and garden in this Project Grow class that is also part of the Organic Gardening Certification course.

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