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Pest prevention a little too effective?

 
gardener
Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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forest garden urban
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One of the things I did this year was plant excessive amounts of dill in the hopes of having more swallowtails butterflies this year. I just realized recently that I'm not seeing large numbers of any one species of butterfly.I do see a lot of different butterflies, just not a huge number of any one species. I think my healthy population of predatory insects is gonna keep me from a butterfly population explosion.

I like the reduced crop damage too much to change any of my gardening practices, but thought it was interesting to notice.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1793
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Do predatory insects kill butterflies (or caterpillars)?
 
Casie Becker
gardener
Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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Yes. Cabbage worms and Tomato Hornworms are two well known examples of caterpillars that are known as pests. The hornworms become a very large and impressive butterfly.

One of the common methods of controlling these is to encourage predatory or parasitic wasps to live in your area. Many species of wasp hunt caterpillars to feed to their growing young in the spring. Beetles and ants will attack and eat anything from eggs to the slower moving adults. And then there's the preying mantis. I actually think I like those as much, if not more than the butterflies.

I'm not loosing out on all butterflies. I'm just loosing out on having a huge amount of any one species. No monoculture in my air space. In most areas of my yard I have a broad variety of host plants. If I stand in my yard for ten minutes I will see at least three different species of butterflies.
 
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