With summer comes the sound of songbirds and the hum of insects.
Often insects are seen as nuisances — pests that need bug dope to keep them away. And while I absolutely hate biting bugs there are some insects I find very interesting and necessary for gardening.
With ladybugs around aphids won’t be a problem in the garden. When we lived on the prairies our house was the ladybugs’ winter home and we never worried about aphids even when the rest of the neighbourhood was complaining of them.
Also, earthworms are good for a garden. They don’t hurt plants, but rather tunnel around them — bringing air, water and other nutrients to the roots of plants, where they need it most.
Ants are common on our farm. Ants are beneficial to a garden in small doses. Too many will definitely do damage to plants, and ants that “farm” aphids have been know to spread disease, but having them pass through — cleaning up small debris and even carrying off aphids — is great. I haven’t had any problems with ants in our garden so I generally let them do their thing.
The job of a worker ant is to collect food to store for the winter. This brings organic material down into the soil. If it isn’t eaten it will break down, enriching the soil.
The ant tunnels also aerate the soil and allow areas for rainwater to pass through. This is usually a job done by earthworms but we don’t have many.
My favourite insects are the pollinators, specifically honeybees. Pollinators are usually bees or wasps, but butterflies and moths also help.
Very small pollinating insects do a very large job. Without them many foods wouldn’t even exist. We rely on them.
This spring I noticed a lack of pollinators.
We have some pumpkin plants growing on our deck and while they have been blooming for over a month now, no fruit has set. Even our pea patch, which is covered in flowers, isn’t humming like it usually does. There are pea pods coming, so something is pollinating the flowers but bees and wasps aren’t overly present.
If we had honeybees this wouldn’t worry me. Honeybees are one of the few insects that can be domesticated so to speak, and I find working with them to be very relaxing.
A few years ago I worked a couple of hives. They didn’t produce much honey because I got them late in the spring but it was nice to see the orderliness of their lives.
And when anything bloomed in the garden, even the broccoli, the place just hummed with their busyness.