As any avid gardener will tell you, invasive pests are one of the biggest issues for plant life come springtime. One particularly destructive pest, aphids, pose a big problem to many species of plants, especially roses, which presents a particularly tricky problem for us as the devoted guardians of over 30,000 roses at our Springvale site alone.
Over the years, we have seen many approaches emerge designed to control pests, from campaigns to stop the introduction of new pests across state borders to scented traps and chemical insecticides.
Of course, it’s not all about efficiency - an important consideration is also the impact on the environment. Chemicals can have a serious impact on our ecosystem (and us) - synthetic pesticides do not degrade naturally, and when they are absorbed into the atmosphere, land, or water they persist for long periods of time. According to the 2016 Australia State of the Environment Assessment, as these chemicals work their way into the food chain, they can build up in the tissues of animals, including humans, and affect the health of populations over time.
A natural alternative
The natural world is full of ecosystem balancing acts, so for every pest there is a ‘good bug’ that can be called upon to save the day. You may be surprised to hear that one of these noble warriors is none other than the humble ladybug.
Since 2018, SMCT’s Rosarian Coordinator Rolfe Stok and his team have been driving an important biodiversity project designed to keep pest populations under control naturally through the use of natural predators.
‘In the height of spring, it is not unusual to have 3-5 thousand aphids per 10 square metres. In the last year, these numbers have halved,’ shared Rolfe.