Praying the pests away

Lets face it, if you are a gardener, you will do just about anything to get rid of pesky pests. There's nothing worse than nurturing your leafy greens day by day, only to find them one day, covered in sticky white aphids or ferociously scurrying spider mites.

Man kind has been searching for a solution to this problem its entire existence. Thanks to technological advances in mid-century America, we were told that we could enjoy "better living through chemistry." As a result, many people abandoned organic farming and gardening and opted for chemical pesticides instead. The result has been contaminated water and soil, endangered species risks, less healthy produce, and an overall unhealthy environment.

But what if I were to tell you that fighting pests with pests is a much healthier option for both the environment as well as our own health? This is called Biological pest control (the OG of organic gardening). It introduces a combination of of beneficial insects to an environment to feed off the unwanted or harmful pests while leaving your beloved plants unharmed. For example, praying mantis are an insect used by many organic gardeners because they eat almost any bug they come into contact with (except ladybugs which are another beneficial insect). They are large, interesting looking, and somewhat gregarious creatures that come in an array of different colors, but the majority of them are some sort of brown or green. They are voracious predators and like to conceal themselves behind leaves and sticks as they seek out prey.

To include mantids in your garden, you can purchase praying mantis egg pods from any gardening company that supplies them. I order mine from But remember to follow the mantid's natural breeding cycle for best results. This means purchasing pods late in Winter or early Spring (depending on how long they take to ship). Once the pods arrive, they need to be placed fairly high up in a secure and shaded area. When mantids are born, it is their natural instinct to climb downwards so placing the pod in a high place is important. You also want to make sure that it is secure so it doesn't blow away when there's wind and you want there to be a decent amount of shade so they don't die of heat exhaustion immediately. Finally, be patient and DON'T USE CHEMICALS ANYMORE! The mantids will need time to grow so don't become frustrated if your pest infestation isn't immediately disappearing. They'll start by feeding small and as they grow so will their appetites. Mantids are masters at hide and seek so if you think they've left, they haven't! Just because you haven't seen one in a while doesn't mean they're gone so changing your mind and going back to using pesticides is a bad idea. If you do, you'll either end up spraying one or more directly, which means a certain and violent death, or you will at the very least contaminate their environment and food source, effectively killing it anyway.

If praying mantis aren't your thing, there are a number of different biologically healthy creatures that will keep your garden or back yard lush such as bees, lacewing flies, ladybugs, frogs, etc... so take your pick! But make sure to always do your homework before introducing a living creature into your environment.

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