Principle: Raise beneficial insects and keep pests away
Insects are one of the most diverse groups of animals on the planet. There are between six and ten million living species of insects on earth. They represent about 90% of animal life forms on earth.
Insects provide several benefits to a permaculture farm. These include helping to pollinate plants, providing food for other creatures and eating parasitic aphids, mites and other unwanted pests. Types of beneficial insects include bees, ants, butterflies, beetles, dragonflies, termites, cockroaches, mayflies, cicadas, hoppers, wasps, flies and moths, among many others.
You can attract beneficial insects to your site by:
- Planting “insect attractor/repellent” plants (like flowers)
- Build an insect hotel
- Build a bee hive.
An insect hotel is a structure designed for insects to hibernate, lay eggs or find shelter and security from predators. The ideal location for an insect hotel is in full sun and protected from the weather. This ensures the heat required for the brood is present and wind or rain will not destroy their nest. Building on a wall or hedge facing the sun is a good position. Hotels should be relatively close to flowering herbs, wild flowers, garden, shrubs and trees.
Insect hotel design notes
- Bundle twigs together in an open-facing wooden box to attract ladybugs.
- A bundle of bamboo or reeds, put in an old tin can and hung in a warm place will attract solitary bees. The bamboo must be cut to allow entry for the insects. Often people may add stems of elderberry, rose or blackberry shoots whose marrow can serve as a food source as well.
- Large gaps between stacked bricks attract isopods, scavengers in the garden.
- A sawn wooden log in which holes are drilled different sizes (2, 4, 6, or 8 mm), a few centimeters apart, drilled deep but not all the way through will attract solitary bees, some wasps and bumblebees.
- Vertical slits allow butterflies to hibernate.
- Sand the exterior of each piece of the hotel – The entrance must be smooth enough so that the delicate bodies of the insects are not damaged.
- Aterracotta flowerpot hung upside-down, filled with bundles of straw or wood wool is an ideal house for earwigs. Earwigs are good to have present in and near fruit trees as they eat plant lice that may settle on the tree and disturb fruit growth.
Bees pollinate plants and produce honey, beeswax and propolis. You can build a bee box to attract bees to your site. There are many styles of bee boxes online if you google “bee box schematic”.
Bee boxes, or bee hives, are designed to encourage the health of the bee society as well as make it easy to remove the honey from the hive with the least disruption possible. Here is a good website for building a bee box:
Here are a few ways to keep down the pests around your land:
Pond insect trap
- Cut a piece of tin into an “L” shape, build rain protection roof,
- Set vertically in a pond
- Hang a florescent light bulb in the “L”
- Place at the edge of a garden/pond area
Fruit fly trap
- Wrap rotten fish in a fine mesh net to allow flies to enter but not exit
- Use liquid from rotten fish in a narrow-necked bottle to trap flies
- Place outside the vegetable garden to lure insects out of the crop
Dig a small moat around each post or foundation of your house. Pour with concrete, leave a small trench 10-20 cm wide. Fill with water. This trick keeps ants and termites out of your house.
The small trench can keep out ants and termites.
- Cut a 2-liter bottle in half
- Mix brown sugar with hot water. Let cool. When cold, pour in the bottom half of the bottle
- Add yeast, no need to mix. It creates carbon dioxide, which attracts mosquitoes
- Place the funnel part, upside down, into the other half of the bottle, taping them together if desired
- Wrap the bottle with something black, leaving the top uncovered and place it outside in an area away from your normal gathering area. (Mosquitoes are also drawn to the color black.)
- Change the solution every 2 weeks for continuous control
Pesticide to control aphids, mealy bug, citrus leaf miner, mites and caterpillars on fruit trees and flowers.
- Mix 2 cups vegetable oil and ½ cup liquid soap in a bottle
- Chop and blend 3 hot peppers + 3 garlic cloves (optional)
- Mix fermented brown rice juice with fermented green plant juice (optional)
- Shake until it turns white
- Dilute with water 10:1
- Pour into a spray bottle, let stand 24 hours
- Strain and spray on top and bottom leaves of infested plants
Bats eat insects. Installing a bat box is another way to rid your site of pesky mosquitoes (see image on the right)
Frogs eat mosquitoes, moths and other flying insects. A frog pond (as opposed to fish, frogs like to eat fish eggs).