The Lovable Predator
Have you ever found a creepy looking miniature alligator bug in your garden? Never fear: It’s a baby lady bug in its larval stage snacking on your garden pests! One of our most beneficial garden insects, the lovable ladybug is actually a voracious predator of crop-destroying critters like aphids and whiteflies. However ladybugs go through three stages before they actually look like a ladybug (think butterfly life cycle) and each of these stages may look like one of the bad guys to the untrained eye. So next time you encounter some of these ugly ducklings, leave them to their task and let nature balance out your garden.
If you’d like to lure ladybugs into your garden naturally, grow fennel, dill, cilantro, caraway, wild carrot and yarrow, plus flowers such as cosmos (especially the white ones) and scented geraniums.
Going Native = No Bad Bugs
We are lucky to bask in a lovely Mediterranean climate in Culver City that is so favorable for drought tolerant California native plants. One of the hidden benefits of natives is their natural pest-resistance. According to the Ballona Creek Renaissance website, natives don't require fertilizers or insecticides (both of which pollute the watershed) since they’re acclimated to the native soils and have few insect pests. All this, plus natives attract birds, pollinating bees and other beneficial critters. Overall, native plants are a win-win-win landscaping choice for your garden.
All About Urban Bees
Now that it's April, swarm season is in full swing. If you end up with a swarm, DO NOT call the exterminators! Why? While honeybee populations are collapsing in chemically-treated rural agricultural areas, urban environments provide a relatively safe zone for wild bees to thrive. Since honeybees are one of nature's most prolific pollinators, it is crucial to keep our food chain in working order by encouraging our local honeybee populations. Two local groups have focused on the plight of the bees with proactive urban beekeeping solutions and can happily help you remove a swarm and find them a new home— for cheap or free!
The folks at Honey Love, a non-profit based in Mar Vista, are dedicated to protecting honeybees while inspiring and educating new urban beekeepers. You can catch their presentation at the upcoming Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase on April 21 at the Venice Learning Garden. Their website also offers an extensive list of bee-friendly plants.
The Backward Beekeepers is another Los Angeles-based hobbyist group of organic, treatment-free beekeepers. They call themselves "Backwards" because they rely on old-fashioned observation and natural practices to keep local bees thriving rather than relying on pesticides, chemicals, or treatments of any kind. Backward Beekeepers has a swarm rescue hotline. Look at their rescue criteria online before calling (for example, no chimney rescues!) BEE HOTLINE: (213) 373-1104.
“What's Buzzing in Your BackYard?”
On Wednesday, April 18 at 3:30 pm the Culver City Julian Dixon Library is hosting a bug-related event for kids and families in early celebration of Earth Day. Heather Teodoro of the Los Angeles County West Vector Control District will present her ever-popular, colorful and interactive “What's Buzzing in Your BackYard?” presentation about stinging and biting insects, hives, nests and honeycombs. lots of fun. Geared for elementary school-aged children of all ages and their parents and caregivers, too. Contact Info: Joan Mead - (310) 559-1676
Culver City resident Virginia Blades has an interest in environmental topics. Lately she has been seen wearing her flashlight helmet at midnight in search of the mysterious garden pests chomping her zucchini seedlings.