TX Organic Research Center



Beneficial Insects, TDA, Fire Ants
March 26, 1999
By Howard Garrett

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the mild weather will mean more pest bugs. If good weather helps the population of pest bugs, it will also help the beneficials. The balance would also remain if the winter was severe. Furthermore, most insects are beneficial. Even some of the troublesome insects like aphids perform beneficial services. The goal is to establish a natural balance. There are three beneficial insects that I want you to buy and release starting now in the early spring - trichogramma wasps, green lacewings, and lady beetles or ladybugs. Trichogramma wasps are tiny gnat-like wasps that are very effective in controlling pecan casebearers, loopers, greenworms, and other small caterpillars. They are parasites, not predators. They are released by simply pinning the one inch square cards in trees or on wood stakes in the garden. Green lacewings are pretty little flies with large wings. Their larvae love to eat aphids, red spider mites, lacebugs, thrips and many other pest bugs. Trichogramma wasps and lacewings are both released in egg from when plants first leaf out. The adult ladybugs are released directly on aphid-infested plants after giving the plants a blast of water from the garden hose – or in the morning when the dew is on the foliage. These beneficials along with more detailed release information are available at the ever increasing number of organic garden centers and feed stores.

Q. I have a terrible problem with fire ants. I have never tried The Natural Way but the pesticides I have used don’t cure the problem. They only seem to move the ants to other parts of the yard. I have a three year old son who can’t even play outside because the ants are so bad. Is there anything I can do to get rid of these pests or is it something I just have to live with? There has to be a better way. – B.J., Dallas

A. Drench problem mounds with a mix of any citrus oil, compost tea, and molasses mix. To make the concentrate use one part compost tea, one part molasses, and one part orange oil or d-limonene concentrate. Then use four to six ounces per gallon of water for treating fire ant mounds. Next treat the site with beneficial nematodes. These are living organisms and must be used before the date deadline on the package. The last and most important step is to go organic. The biodiversity of microbes, insects, and other animals is the best long term control of fire ants. Spray the site regularly with an organic spray that contains molasses will also help. Fire ants hate molasses. Synthetic chemical baits and contact poisons are unnecessary and do not work as the organic approach does. If the toxins did work, why do we still have so many fire ants. Your experience is not unusual.

Q. I have a pecan tree that is about twelve inches in diameter, and there is an open five inch wound that extends vertically about 2.5 feet up the side of the trunk. The wound itself is healed, but in doing so, it left the heartwood exposed and now the middle of the tree is dry rotting. What can be done to keep the inside of the tree from rotting away and weakening the tree to the point where it can fall over? I do not think your "tree goop" is long term enough for this repair. – D.W.B., Justin

A. Actually it is the answer. The Tree Trunk Goop not only helps to heal wounds, but it also feeds the tree through the bark and trunk tissue. Trees have the ability to compartmentalize injured areas and go on to grow and be healthy. Make sure you use the Sick Tree Treatment and the tree should be fine. Mix one third of each of the following mix in water: soft rock phosphate, natural diatomaceous earth, manure compost. Slop it on the trunk. Note: fireplace ashes can be substituted for the soft rock phosphate.

Q. I have a lady bug looking insect that is a pretty green with black spots and more of an egg shape than a lady bug. It eats my roses before they get open or after they have opened it eats the petals. Please tell me what it is and the best way to get rid of it. Thank you – A.A., Dallas

A. That little beast will eat many ornamentals and food crops. It is the spotted cucumber beetle. Although one of the most troublesome insect pests, this beetle and other pests can be controlled with the Basic Organic Program BOP and a spray program using Garrett Juice and garlic tea. Adding citrus oil to the spray will also help.


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