Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Douglas College hosts free forum on eco-friendly approach to de-bugging your garden

Urban gardeners partner with UNIBUG to fight insects the natural way.

By Tamara Letkeman, doug Editor

If you love gardening but hate the thought of spraying chemicals on your plants to stave off pests, you won’t want to miss What’s Wriggling in Your Rhubarb? UNIBUG and the biological control of insects, at Douglas College next week.

At the free forum, put on by the College’s Institute of Urban Ecology, you’ll learn about UNIBUG – the User Network for Insect Biology in the Urban Garden – and how to become involved with fighting insects the natural way: through planting flora that attract beneficial insects – or good bugs that eat bad bugs – to your garden.

The event takes place Saturday, May 12, 1pm, in the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre, fourth floor, Douglas College, 700 Royal Ave., New Westminster.

Amy, a UNIBUG volunteer, plants sweet alyssum.
Guest speakers Renee Prasad (University of the Fraser Valley) and Rick Kool (Royal Roads University) will be at the forum to discuss biological control insects and “citizen science.” Recognition of volunteers with the UNIBUG project will follow, along with light refreshments.

Last year UNIBUG partnered with local urban gardeners to launch the UNIBUG project. The gardeners volunteered to plant certain plants, such as sweet alyssum and yarrow, and had traps buried in the soil to capture the insects the plants were attracting.

“We're still analyzing the results,” says Veronica Wahl, UNIBUG Coordinator. “But it looks like sweet alyssum attracts predatory beetles that could feed on pests. The jury’s still out on the yarrow at this point.”

Veronica says the project is a great way for community members to get involved in scientific research, learn about biological control of pests and help the environment in a fun and easy way.

“People sometimes take a doom-and-gloom approach to helping the environment, where they believe you must sacrifice too much or that it costs too much to act sustainably,” Veronica says. “This project is really cool because it's quite the opposite: Buy a very inexpensive, really pretty flower that’s friends with everything in your garden and plant it, and at the end of the day it's actually cheaper and much less work than figuring out the chemicals.”

For more information or to find out how to be a volunteer with UNIBUG, email Veronica or call 604 527 5522.