Aphids, White Fly and Parasitic Wasps…Oh My!

The days are getting longer. The Plants in the indoor garden that have fed us all winter are hammered but still producing. The short daylight periods and cool temperatures near the windows have taken there 031 IMAG2476toll. Solar homesteading does not allow for space heaters or high powered lights to supplement the photoperiod. Normally it would be time for a trim to make room for new growth. But wait, we  have other things to consider. Some of the dead and dieing leaves carry a precious cargo. Aphidius mummies can be seen here and there on the underside of many older leaves. These small brown sacks are aphids that have been parisitized by a small parasitic wasp. Soon the daylight period and average temperatures will increase and Aphidius will hatch out and go to work. Their work is important and irreplaceable to us. Without them we would be over run with aphids by mid spring. Indoor gardening would be near impossible. We have worked hard to develop a resident herd of Aphidius and will not be trimming away our tiny friends. nearby there is a disturbing looking black scale on some of the leaves. Not to worry, they’re parisitized white fly eggs. Soon they’ll hatch out Encarcia Formosa. Another roommate of ours we couldn’t do without. Being over run with white fly is no better and just as devastating to the plants. 020 (2)They get to stay as well. Yes, they live here as permanent residents. So do the Lady Bugs that sun themselves on the windows by day and disappear into the garden by night. Several nearly invisible predatory mites also patrol the soil as well as the plants. Together they work to keep at bay a variety of pests all gardeners could do with out. Many will colonize our vegetable starts and move out to the greenhouse in the spring to maintain pest levels there.

Insect bio-controls are not cheap. Neither is the next day shipping required to get them here. We will maintain our investment for now by forgoing the needed trimming. Once we see an ongoing interaction between the beneficial insects and they’re prey will be soon enough to pretty up the garden. For now we let them enjoy a well earned rest while we enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors.

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