Predators in the Garden: Pest control post-collapse Part 1
It will take an enormous amount of effort, time, and resources to grow crops from seed to harvest. I hope you realize that based upon the postings on planing a garden, picking our heirloom seeds, weeding, watering without city water systems, composting, etc. It will take a lot of work, and will always mean more than one person working in order to raise enough food for the tribe, whatever the size of the tribe... even if only three people.
Most of you are used to effortlessly acquiring food from grocery stores. You're used to getting strawberries year round. You have very unrealistic ideas about diet diversity, and why not? You can eat from frozen, canned, dehydrated, freshly prepared, or just from the garden produce on any day of the week if you have adequate funds.
After only working three days in the garden, and feeling the muscle soreness from exerting yourself and unused muscles, and feeling lower back and knee pain from the grinding of cartilage against bone, each gardener begins to feel a sense of ownership in the garden. That soreness goes away some, and is replaced with vigor and strength. The seedlings come up and we see life renewed in the microcosm environment that we ourselves have fashioned. Spiritual folks understand the beginnings of Genesis in much more powerful a way.
Some creatures will begin taking a tax or toll upon our efforts. They will find the fresh greens, newly leaves and stalks, and begin consuming them. You'll react with horror. That produce now that you took for granted every day of your lives before the collapse will now be your lifeline.
In order to cope, a prepper has transformed into a homesteader. Their lands and home become their castle and fiefdom. You'll repel the enemy pests by using time-worn creative strategies to prevent their increasing numbers, manage what few remain, and or destroy them outright.
First, not every bug is bad. Those annoying bees are pollinators. Theoretically you know this, and yet their buzzing will become a nuisance as they dart around in their haphazard flight. If lucky, you'll see bees dance. The dance tells other bees where the food source is.
If you look closely, you'll see their pollen sacs. They collect some of the pollen as they move about collecting nectar from flowers. Pollen is a product of the anthers, what would be the male counterpart in humans. That pollen is just like sperm, and the bees moving around results in cross-pollination, and this strengthens the plant. That pollen enters the sticky portion of the pistil, the wet sticky female counterpart in humanity, and the result is new life as seed and eventually as fruit (or vegetables).
Because bees like and need water, if there's a sweet drink or a glass of water around, then they'll take a drink. It's common sense. That means a gardener will not have open drinks outside from them to sip from. The bee will enter the soda can or cup and then you get an accidental sting.
Bees only accidentally sting you, at great cost to themselves, for when they do, it actually disembowels them. They definitely don't want to do it, and unless Africanized killer bees, they won't do it unless threatened and protecting themselves or the hive. Since some people are allergic to bee stings, and might not know it, care must be taken. You will occasionally get stung if you garden long enough, but chances are it won't be a bee sting. In many many decades, I've been stung by a bee three times. Once as a child rolling in clover while they were harvesting nectar, once from picking up what I thought was a dead bee (it was dying from the cold), and once from an accidental sting from working in the garden.
The bee population has been declining, and we don't definitively know why. It could be mites, pollution, electromagnetic waves interfering with navigation, pesticides, who knows? The important things is, we need pollinators and honey. If we don't have them, then we have to do all that work ourselves. It could mean fanning plants with homemade fans to spread the pollen at certain times, or using a fine brush to carry specific pollens to the same species of plants if there are not enough bees around.
Bees like certain plants very much like basswood trees, clover, elderberry, hazelnut,lavender, milkweed, mint, etc. These are plants that are useful for us by reasons previously mentioned in some (not all) postings. We want to plant things that attract bees and also that produce on their own products that we need ourselves. Use synergy as much as possible. Helping bees helps ourselves.
[link to www.themelissagarden.com
Ladybugs are for some bizarre reason considered harmless. Most insects are harmless. I guess people think they're cute, and so no one fears them. You may have witnessed a wonderful sight before. They've hatched and matured enough that they take flight from a concealed location, often behind a crack in some wood, and suddenly there are a multitude of ladybugs.
Ladybugs eat aphids. These are a kind of insect that some ants actually raise as livestock. The ants stroke the aphids, and then a kind of fluid like milk is expressed and this can be consumed by the ant. The fluid came from drinking from plant material and causes a loss of turgor pressure in the plant from the wound. We don't want aphids, so we want ladybugs in our garden.
A preying mantis is a wonderful but undiscriminating predator that eats other insects. It will lay an egg case that looks like this:
It is one of our most powerful allies. Collecting egg cases is a good idea, but only in tightly sealed containers that you open on occasion for air. When it gets warm, you place them outside so they populate your garden. It's a sin to kill a mantis. They are mighty warriors. Actually a system of kung fu was created based upon studying their attack methods. If you're not careful, and have them inside, then you might suddenly have 400 preying mantises roaming your home. Not fun. I actually know a biologist professor who accidentally released them this way in a collage.
Use allies to do your work for you. There are more of them than your gardening team.
There are two quasi-allies in a garden: spiders and wasps. Both are aggressive. Both eat insects. Both will be prevalent. Wasps like to eat spiders and caterpillars. Spiders like whatever creature falls into their webs as long as they can control them.
The issue is they can sting you as well. While a bee can sting once, you only need to remove the stinger left behind (if at all). A spider bite can be poisonous, but usually it only leaves a raised area. The swelling can be considerable!A wasp can sting many many times, as anyone who's ever had a wasp get trapped within their pant legs can attest! They also are fierce and will sting repeatedly thinking they can get you. It'll really hurt versus a bee sting. Then it'll itch like crazy. No thanks!
Some spiders and wasps should be tolerated within reason. If they become a nuisance, then destroy spider nests, and they'll move along to a more serene location. Paper wasp nest can be knocked down when there's a chill in the air, covered with home-made hot pepper spray or water, and then eliminated by removal. Use a little common sense. Mud daubers will leave clay nests placed under porches in areas with high spider population. If there's no spiders, they move along to more prolific hunting grounds. Some are almost alienlike in their bright blue coloring.
Home many homeschool lessons can you make from the above material? Always teach your children valuable information like this which is also practical. There are lots of resources on the web. You also will have ample opportunity to see physical specimens. If you have a cheap magnifying glass or better a microscope (some can be very inexpensive), then your children and you can become amateur naturalists.