I am planning a ground cover polyculture over my septic leach field. Clemson University has a great list of appropriate plants with shallow roots and provides many species, most of which are pretty "useful." I'm designing this with the main goal in mind to provide lots of food and shelter for beneficial insects. A couple of my potential species attract hummingbirds. I thought to research a bit what they like to eat besides nectar. Turns out they eat mostly insects, and definitely parasitoid wasps. So it makes me wonder, if I had hummingbirds coming to this site, how much damage would they do to the insect population that I'm trying to attract?? If there is no relatively clear answer, I will probably shy away from planting anything for hummingbirds just to be sure I'm not working against my particular goal. Any ideas?
We have lots of hummingbirds and I can say that they are great for eating bugs.
I also have purchased Trichogramma wasp eggs for combatting cabbage worms. The Trichogramma worked did great at first then eventually disappeared. I don’t think the hummingbirds are at fault thought for their disappearance though. Wind was a more likely problem. The hummingbirds seem to be great for bugs such as gnats, flies, even caterpillars, mosquitoes, and spiders. The Trichogramma wasps are much to small I believe. Other beneficial species are much larger. So I guess it depends on what species you are wanting.
The hummingbirds have been a definitely beneficial critter for us and while I am sure they eat the occasional good bug the overall experience has been a healthier overall mix. Personal I would go for the hummers if you have super tiny wasps or have lots of mosquitoes, gnats or the like as they will help out. If you don’t have a lot of pesky insects then perhaps hold off on the hummingbirds. Overall I think they would eat more bad than good bugs but that has been my experience so I am biased.
We had terrible cabbage worms until I quit killing the paper wasps. Now we have harlequin bugs but few cabbage worms.
The big win (I think) was the installation of dill, parsnip and carrot along with an herb garden right next to the main garden. The herb garden has fennel and anise hyssop as well. These are home to predators and we have now seen hornworm with larvae hatching for the first time. I expect this to continue since predators always lag by a year or so.
I highly recommend compound flowers for the microwasps
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