Organic Controls for Garden Pests

Some Common Questions answered...

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At what time of year should I use Biological Controls? ?

The general rule is that the natural predators and parasites divide broadly into two camps - insects  and nematodes. Insects need warmth and light and do best in daytime temperatures above 15C (60F) with day length more than 11 hours or artificial light.. Nematodes live in the soil and so don't need the light. They are effective at 10 degrees and even lower. Having considered the best environment for the predator, the next thing to consider is when the prey is active. You need to check out the life cycle of the pest - please consult the individual pages on this web site for more information.

What happens once the Biological Control has eradicated the pests?

Given satisfactory conditions, the beneficial predator or parasite population will continue to grow as long as there are pests to feed on. As they are generally highly selective in their diet, once they have cleared up the pest problem they will either die off, or fly off to search for food elsewhere. There are a few exceptions, but as a general rule growers will introduce a new batch of predators every year.

How do I know which pests I have?

Because each control is very specific, correct identification of the pests is essential. Check your plants regularly to ensure that you are aware of any problems and can order Biological Controls as early as possible. Sticky deposits and black sooty mould are danger signals and require investigation. It could be due to whitefly, greenfly, scale or mealybug infestations.  If you are stuck in identifying your pest try the "damage" pages on this website. You can also send in living samples to the address on the "about us" page.

How much do I need?

The nematode packs are sized by the sq metres of coverage. The insect packs are more difficult to size, because it depends on the size of your plants, as well as the number of prey. As a general rule of thumb the smallest size is suitable for a small greenhouse or conservatory.

Is there anything I can do now, before my Biological Controls arrive?

Reducing pest numbers will decrease the time needed to eradicate the problem. Squashing them or spraying them with Organic Pest Control Spray where possible will leave lower numbers of remaining pests to be dealt with. SB Plant Invigorator  kills insects on contact and is therefore equally harmful to beneficial insects and pests alike. However they do not have any lingering residual harmful effect once dry. 
Chemical sprays should not be used for at least 4 weeks before introducing beneficial insects as most chemicals have long lasting residual effects.

Can I store my products if I don't want to use them straight away?

It is best always to use live product as fresh as possible. However if you are ordering nematodes they can be kept in the fridge for about 7 days if necessary. Store them in the salad compartment so there is no danger of them freezing. There is a notional "expiry date" on the pack under the sleeve for guidance, so you can see how fresh it is.
For insects that are active, there will be a recommended storage temperature on the label and you need to check this carefully - this is the best temperature to slow them down without killing them. There is also an expiry date on the packaging too - but active insects are really best released as soon as possible.
Cards and sachets are not quite so temperamental and you can store them for a few days if you really have to - again check the temperature guidance carefully because it varies.