The hot summer weather takes its toll on the earth, turning a once lush green pasture golden brown. Though it may seem like life has gone, if you stand still for a moment and listen, you’ll hear a chorus of thriving small symphonies in the tall grass. Strangely enough, this musical affirmation of a healthy ecosystem is not always present, especially in places which are heavily landscaped and chemically manipulated to keep “pests” out. Insects may be the bane of many a cultivator, even here at EEC, some verities of creepy crawlies are not welcome so easily- especially when they eat the crops we’re trying to grow. Though we may struggle with some pests, most of our insects species play vital roles in pollination, natural deterrent to pest species, or as a food source for other animals further up the food chain. The sound of insect activity on the landscape is an indicator of health in the ecosystem. If you go outside on a warm day and stand in silence, there’s a crucial part of the environment missing. Most of the absents is caused by chemical inhibitors- pesticides.
Listen up in your neighborhood to see who’s thriving, and who’s spraying to keep insects away. You might be surprised to find a deafening silence in parks, backyards, sports fields, and other open spaces where lawn management occurs. People are usually grossed out by bugs, and I’ll say we do have citronella candles on our porch to keep mosquitos away, but at EEC, we use no harmful chemical pesticides. I have invested in neem oil and mild soapy water to fight off scale and aphids in the garden, but I can’t imagine putting any harmful chemicals on the land en-mass to deter insects. Often, sprays like roundup kill all insects, not just the one or two kinds eating your fruit and veggies. Dragonflies, lacewings, and honey bees are all killed along with the mites, weevils, and web worms. In the same way I hand pull invasive weeds, I hand pluck the insects off my crops, but there will always be a few left. That’s more in line with nature, even if I don’t like them there. It’s important to acknowledge the role all living things play in an intact ecosystem.