Beneficial birds

rj_hythloday(8A VA)September 17, 2008

I really had a problem w/ squash bugs this season. I want to get some bird houses for the garden. Is there a particular type of bird house to attract a particular type of bird that is good for eating insects in the garden?

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Our farming cousins like purple martins and in the east they seem happy to live in bird houses or even bird apartments, but I've read that like all swallows they only eat insects taken on the fly and can starve during periods of cool or rainy weather. They seem to like open fields rather than crowded suburbs.

I've learned that cardinals' diets include up to a third insects during the summer. They've stripped my garden of black swallowtail caterpillars this year. I wish they'd develop a taste for harlequin bugs.

My neighbor says her chickens keep the bugs down in her garden, but you have to keep a careful eye on them. You probably had something a little less labor intensive in mind.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 9:00PM
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rj_hythloday(8A VA)

I wish I could have chickens, I'm in military housing so it's a pretty small garden. Thanks for the reply.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 2:57AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

While I'm very much in favor of supporting our feathered friends, you might find different methods to be more effective in deterring squash bugs.

If possible, do not plant squash in the place in consecutive years.

Do plant several radish seeds to surround (about 4" to 6" away) each squash seed. Don't pull up the radishes but let them grow throughout the season. If you like stirfried radish pods, grow that particular variety, otherwise any radish seems to be effective. (This is what I do, and it's been effective for quite a few years.)

Maybe worth a try: Once the squash seed has sprouted and has several grown-up leaves, carefully place foil around the stem at ground level. The theory is that the foil reflects light onto the underside of the leaves and the bugs don't like it.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 11:12AM
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