Page 42 - South Mississippi Living - March, 2023
P. 42

             story by Lynn Lofton
There are bad bugs and good bugs. We think of insects as pests, but some are beneficial to lawns and gardens as well as adding beauty.
Christine Coker, Ph.D., with the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center, says there are many beneficial insects. “In
fact, we would go hungry without insects pollinating our crops. And there are many pollinators other than bees,” she said. “Pollination is the most important job that insects perform in our gardens. However, there are beneficial insects that feed on undesirable insects.”
These pollinators are attracted by providing them plenty of flowers for nectar, desirable plants for feeding (such as fennel for caterpillars), water, and resting spots. “A variety of flowering plants that bloom throughout the season will ensure plenty of resources for pollinators,” Coker said.
Avonna Cain of Biloxi practices that method for attracting bugs to her garden. A master gardener and long time member of Beach Garden Society, she actively recruits bees, butterflies, birds and lady bugs. “First, have good, rich soil – that will ensure worms – and plant things to encourage these helpful insects,” she says. “I plant pentas that come in all colors and attract butterflies. Pansies are good for winter and the bees and hummingbirds love the yellow ones.”
Cain also has an area with wild flowers that come back every year and zinnias that re-seed and come up every year.
Coker points out that vegetables
are heavily dependent on pollinators. “Although wind pollination does take place, most vegetables are dependent on insects to share pollen among plants. Pollinating insects include bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, and others,” she said.
Both gardeners cautiously use insecticides to control insect pest populations. “There are various
modes of action for these controls including systemic (the chemical is taken up by the plant and ingested by the insect when it feeds on the plant), physical (such as diatomaceous earth, which is spread around a plant), or chemicals that kill on contact,” Coker said. “Always follow the label instructions!”
Cain recommends Osmocote fertilizer because it doesn’t burn plants. “We need more because we have sandy soil and the sand washes through,” she added. Additional resources can be found at
   42 | March 2023 | SOUTH MISSISSIPPI Living

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