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Impact of bug spray on pollinators

Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 11:10 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 11:12 a.m. CDT

SYCAMORE – The Four Seasons Gardening program by University of Illinois Extension continues with a session on Pollinators and Insecticides. The program is offered twice, at 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, and at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25. Both sessions will be presented via teleconference at the DeKalb County Center for Agriculture, 1350 W. Prairie Drive in Sycamore.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) continues to be a major problem for the honeybee, the most important pollinator. Species of bumblebees in California are dwindling in numbers, and some may go extinct. Bumblebees in Illinois are being surveyed to determine if there is a similar problem. Although these and other threats to pollinators appear to be caused by several factors, recent research points to some insecticides as being more than just a minor part of the problem. Non-technical summaries of this research will be presented along with other impacts to insect pollinators and an overview of the various pollinators.

This is the second session of the spring series. The next program, All About Tomatoes: Strategies for Controlling Common Pests and Disorders, is set for May 7 and 9.

Cost per session is $5. Advance registration is needed. Phone 815-758-8194 or email bmacarus@illinois.edu for more information. If you require special accommodation, please indicate when registering. Register online at web.extension.illinois.edu/bdo.

Some bugs are a blessing

Beneficial insects are an asset to the garden, according to University of Illinois horticulture educator Candice Miller. These naturally-occurring insects control garden pests by eating the pest or its eggs.

“Ladybird beetles, for example, are a great beneficial insect to have in the garden because both the larvae and adults feed on soft-bodied pests such as aphids and are able to help control a garden infestation,” she said.

Some parasitic wasps lay their eggs inside pests such as aphids or tomato hornworms, killing them from the inside out.

There are ways to attract these beneficial bugs to one's garden, Miller said.

“Beneficial insects like to have a selection of things to feed from, so start off by planting a garden of diverse fruits, vegetables, and flowers," she said. "Don’t simply plant the garden in rows. Instead, try interplanting your fruits and vegetables with flowers.”

Parasitoids need to feed on nectar, honeydew and pollen, and they prefer to feed from plants with small flowers like sweet alyssum, Queen Anne’s lace, broccoli, dill, fennel and cosmos.

Marigolds or pepper plants planted around the garden can serve as trap crops, Miller said. They attract pests away from other garden plants, and can then be removed and treated with pesticides or kept in the garden to maintain pest populations for beneficial insects to eat. 

For more information, visit the U of I Extension website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/state/index.html.

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