Photo by Jessica Walliser
Beneficial-insect seed mixes, such as this one, beautify your farm while nurturing the good bugs that keep pests away from your crops.
If you have any extra room to grow on your farm, consider filling it with plants that naturally support beneficial insects. Ladybugs, lacewings, parasitic wasps and thousands of other species of beneficial predatory insects help control pests on the farm, and encouraging them is always a good idea. My own landscape is filled with plants that are known to attract and support these good bugs. If you don’t have time to sort through lists of flowering plants that will support beneficial insects, turn instead to commercial seed blends designed to do the same.
Beneficial-insect seed mixes consist of a collection of plants intended to support a diversity of beneficials throughout the year. Some of the mixes comprise annuals only, while others include perennials, groundcovers and even grasses. Most of the plant species used in the blends are not only useful to your good bugs, they’re also beautiful. You can plant them on field edges, fence rows, or in strips between crop rows. Anywhere will do.
At North Carolina State University in 2003, several different seed blends were compared for seed purity, as well as for their beneficial-insect-luring prowess. Good Bug Blend from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply was found to host the highest population of parasitoids and predators.
In addition to this seed collection, there are a handful of others on the market, including several region-specific blends, with some even tailored for growth height and intended use. Rincon-Vitova Insectary in Ventura, Calif., has a number of available seed blends, including Beneficial Blend Seed Mix, Insecta-Flora (also available in a low-growing mix), and Interflora (a blend specifically created to be part of vegetable intercropping). Arbico Organics carries Good Bug Flowering Beneficial Insect Habitat, Johnny’s Selected Seeds has Beneficial Insect Attractant Mix, and Gurney’s provides a mix named Beneficial Bug Blend.
And this is just a small sampling of the seed blends intended to promote and support numerous beneficial insects. Using one of these seed mixes might lead to a better, longer life for your beneficial insects, and it will make your farm a more beautiful place!