GET BUSY ATTRACTING BEES!

A healthy mix and variety of bugs in your yard is a good thing, despite what my grandchildren say. And while we cherish the sight of our beloved honey bee, there are many, many other pollinators that do an excellent job of assisting with fertilization, as well.

One basic way to encourage a variety of pollinators in your landscape is to have a variety for them to choose from. A mix of annuals and perennials combined with bulbs and tubers all set to bloom at varying times is essential for a healthy and thriving yard and insect population.

Besides the incredibly hardy daffodil and related early spring bulbs, you’ll find most spring color is included in annuals. They seem to know they’ve just the one season to bloom and set seed so they get to work early.

You may have also noticed that your perennials begin their arrival with just leaves, waiting until they have enough leaf growth prior to sending up their flowers. Perennials are, in general, a more patient lot when it comes to flowering. Perhaps this is why our tri-county area is full of blossoming trees in the early spring and a veritable kaleidoscope of color in the early iris. After our long hard winters, a welcome sight indeed.

Another way to ensure a healthy insect population in your yard is to cease the use of chemical pesticides and insecticides. Not only can they leach into the soil, travel airborne for a considerable distance, but if not carefully applied they may cause more harm than good.

I routinely see individuals using handheld spray devices and chemical applicators without using any personal protective equipment. This simply isn’t a good idea. A mask to protect your airway and gloves to protect your hands are both cheap and effective if you feel the need to resort to chemical spraying.

Just remember, if it isn’t good for you to be breathing, why would you want to intentionally spray that in your yard?

It is widely accepted that an overabundance of any insect isn’t necessarily a good thing. Ants, while effectively aerating the soil and providing some haphazard pollination, are more than a bother in the kitchen.

A tried and true remedy to eradicate them that works extremely well is a simple mixture of half boric acid and half white sugar. Boric acid is a fine white powder and is available at nearly att retail stores that supply any pharmaceutical supplies. It is commonly in the eyewash section.

By using half boric acid and half sugar, the ants do the work for you by carrying the boric acid back to the nesting area when they cart off the sugar,

Mix the two ingredients together in a small saucer or jar lid and place it along their walkway. Within 24 hours you will notice a nearly 75 percent reduction in numbers with complete removal of the infestation by no more than four days.

It’s cheap, effective, and non-toxic, although it’s not recommended that the mixture is placed where it could accidentally be ingested by animals or humans.

If you find an overabundance of aphids on some of your outdoor plants, watch them for a while. Ants and aphids have long embraced a symbolic relationship of mutual assistance. This relationship is quite interesting, however, and a good learning tool if you have small children.

When temperatures drop to a dangerous {to the aphid} overnight low, you can actually see the ants carrying aphids to an underground garage, as it were, for safe keeping overnight. The next morning the ants will promptly take the aphids back up the plant and place them where they will be able to access the best, juiciest and most tender part of the stem.

In turn, the aphids allow the ants to “milk” them for the sticky honeydew they secrete. The ants receive the honeydew and protect the aphids. If you take a small stick or blade of grass and pester a few of the aphids, in no time you’ll notice ants running to their defense. A truly remarkable blend of insect wisdom.

Unless your infestation is a bad one on a young plant, most often a repetitive spraying of water may be all that is needed to remove the aphids.

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