Organic Gardening



Taken from Organic Gardening online  :

It's an esoteric debate that sometimes erupts among organic gardeners: Are praying mantises good bugs or bad bugs? The question is irrelevant, even inane, says Dan Digman, an entomologist at Ohio State University. Mantises (also known as mantids) are predators—pure and simple. If hordes of Mexican bean beetles are defoliating your wax beans, you can bet that nearby mantises will be munching beetles. But if a tasty lacewing or honeybee flies within snagging distance, don't expect a mantis to pass up such an easy meal. To a mantis, all bugs are good bugs—good to eat, that is.

"Generally, mantises are good for the garden. They're part of a solution to a pest problem," says Digman. "But they eat beneficials, too. And if nothing else is available, they'll eat each other."

Warm-Weather Beasts Mantids are warm-region insects. Although 1,800 species exist worldwide, only 11 are found in North America. The Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina), which is widespread through the South, and the obscure ground mantid (Litaneutria obscura), common in the Great Plains and arid West, are American natives. But the Chinese mantis (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis) and the common European mantis (Mantis religiosa) were both introduced to the Northeast for insect control. All are known by the common name praying mantis.



 From Preservation Tree

One of the reasons we plant trees and continue to keep them in top shape is because they support our local wildlife habitat. Without the singing of birds or surprise of a butterfly, the landscape would more than lacking.  With the right plant choices and care, our gardens come alive with the wildlife they attract, including an abundance of bird varieties.

One of our favorite but less common local birds are Orioles. Here in North Texas in we have the opportunity to spot a variety of Orioles, depending on the season. Common types to see in fall are Baltimore & Bullocks Orioles, who are migrating to Mexico for winter. The males are easy to spot because of their vibrant orange or yellow hue and black “caps”, although the muted tones of the females are also beautiful.

The females build their nest of straw, string, plant fibers, and moss in intricate patterns suspended from tree branches, with a hole to enter and lay their eggs. While the male Orioles don’t help with the nest, they do help with feeding duties.

How do you attract Orioles to your garden? Trees are crucial for nesting and protection from the elements. Healthy trees in your landscape is always the first step to attract birds.  By following an organic maintenance plan, you won’t destroy all the food for birds.  Spiders, caterpillars and other insects are a major source of food for nearby birds. The birds act as the perfect natural pest control!  Also, offer feeders specifically designed for Orioles and fill with sugar water, just as you would for hummingbirds. It's not unusual for orioles to try hummingbird feeders, but their bills are often too big. Orioles love the color and taste of oranges. Offer orange halves on a branch or feeder.