Neonics, those compounds that the public loves to hate, have been proved time and again by reputable scientific studies not to be solely responsible for the devastation of bee populations. Nonetheless, merely mentioning the word in the garden center sends shivers down the spine of shopper and employee alike. And the word “chemicals,” no matter the specific targeted use, the beneficial effect or the absence of identifiable harm, can send accounts running out the door.

It’s an emotional issue, even more than it is an empirical, fact-based debate. That’s not the say that all chemicals are bad or good; that’s not to say that all of the alternatives are bad or good. But if your production protocols have room for incorporating beneficials and biocontrols, their use can be a selling point.

Academic courses and entire conferences are devoted to the topic, and we don’t intend to grant you a degree. But if you’re considering introducing beneficials, if you’d like to start with biocontrols, we’ve gathered a few references to get you started.

General (conferences, associations)

Banker plants, insectary plants, nurseryscaping

Beneficial insects, IPM

Books

  • “Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs,” by Whitney Cranshaw
  • “Farming with Native Beneficial Insects: Ecological Pest Control Solutions,” by the Xerces Society
  • “Biocontrol in Protected Culture,” by Kevin M. Heinz, Michael P. Parrella and Roy M. Van Driesche
  • “Handbook of Integrated Pest Management for Turf and Ornamentals,” by Anne R. Leslie