Saturday, November 7, 2009

Birds, Bees and Beneficials

One of my favorite blogs is Bill Bird's "Sacramento Vegetable Gardening". Bill is a jazzman with words. His blogs have a rhythm comparable to a Gene Krupa drum solo.

In one recent post, Bill waxed rhapsodic about a certain rose in his yard, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

      As I was reading this post about the trials and tribulations of growing this rose (and actually, the blog is more of a love letter to his wife, Venus), I was wondering how he was going to bring it back around to, if you will excuse me for being a stickler, "Sacramento Vegetable Gardening". 
     Bill did not disappoint. He tied into a neat little package at the end, exclaiming: "Our Lady of Guadalupe attracts a number of beneficial insects to the garden, including bees..."
     This is a subject we have tackled on these pages, as well: the benefits of having a wide variety of beneficial insect attracting plants in your yard to help you do battle against the bad bugs.  And, it's a topic covered more in depth at

    But Bill's apian accolade got me wondering: what other beneficial insects are attracted to roses? And, are there any beneficials that use roses for more than a source of food (housing, for example)? For that answer, the "go-to" guy has to be Baldo Villegas, an entomologist for the state of California, past president of the Sacramento Rose Society and Sierra Foothills Rose Society, as well as being a consulting rosarian.

     "Roses produce a lot of nectar, some more than others," explains Baldo. "Single-petaled roses are best for seeing what attracts insects both good and bad. Some of the best beneficials that I see are syrphid flies, tachinid flies, as well as numerous wasps, both parasitic and predatory. Among the parasitic wasps are the braconid and ichneumonid wasps and predatory wasps that are mainly those in the family Sphecidae. Then there are a lot of different types of bees such as honey bees, andrenids, halictids, megachilids (aka leafcutting bees), and anthophorids (including small carpenter bees). The only ones that use roses for housing and for prey gathering are two predatory wasps in the family Sphecidae. One of these wasps preys on aphids and the other one on flies."

For pictures and more information about these garden good guys, visit the UC Davis IPM Online Natural Enemies Gallery.

1 comment:

  1. Didn't Gene Kruppa also have a certain problem with an illegal weed that grows well around these parts?

    Well -- whaddya know! Two things in common!

    Thanks Fred.