You learn something new everyday and here in Scotland, the unassuming little bug which seems to be everywhere, we know as ‘slaters’. Elsewhere, they have different names but even as a ‘pill bug’ we understand what they are.
We find them around old property and especially where there is old, decaying wood. As they were quietly destructive indoors, I usually dispatched them outdoors if I found any in the house. Having recently read an article on them and how they can remove contaminates from the soil, I’m starting to see them in a whole new light, even if not welcome in the house.
I think it’s the same for most bugs or insects we see as pests, but if you start to understand what work they do, you start thinking of them with a little more respect. By finding out more about their purpose, I am learning to appreciate many of the creatures I tried to get rid of previously. They all have a place in the world, we just need to understand what it is.
Unfortunately some bugs and insects are big time poachers and when you have limited number of plants in the garden, you can’t afford to share, especially if the poacher nips seedlings off at ground level and doesn’t leave it a chance to be shared with anything else – especially me.
Slugs are one thing I do have to cull now and again, preferably ‘now’ before they do more damage. Snails have a better chance as they have a better tendency to bounce, so tossing them elsewhere they at least have a fighting chance. If they can run the gauntlet without being bird fodder, they will no doubt return since they have a homing instinct and need to be taken some distance away for their satnav system to get scrambled.
The ecosystem in my garden seems to lack a few links. A few more ladybirds to control greenfly wouldn’t go amiss. I do try to make sure there is a good number of flowering plants to attract more beneficial insects. I have generally good support from hoverflies but haven’t noticed any lacewings, and as for microwasps, well I wouldn’t notice them anyway.
My small pond is surrounded by some flowering plants and shrubs but perhaps it’s still not enough. I try to grow vegetables with the added bonus of having pretty flowers.
Purple Podded Peas for example, also have purple and lilac flowers. Some plants have insignificant flowers but have a superb perfume. Indian Mint, an excellent sweet-smelling plant suitable for hanging baskets.
Reseda odorata grandiflora with tiny flowers on large, insignificant flower head but makes up by producing a delightful, heavy scent. The sweet perfume of Galtonia Candecans, which appears when other flowers are past their best.
Also known as Summer Hyacinths, their tall stems and bell-shaped flowers are even nicer grown in a group. Earlier in the year, the perfume department is provided by Skimmia japonica, and Sarcococca hookeriana also known as Himalayan Sweet Box, but whether it’s colour or smell, I try to make sure the invitation is there for the little visitors.
I don’t use a lot of chemicals on anything in the garden, I try to avoid it as much as possible. I always have to remember that there is a food chain at work, and wonder if the dead frog I found was a result of using slug pellets when the dying slug became easy prey for a hungry frog.