The Q&A Archives: Soil pH & bad bug population growth

Question: Does soil pH have an impact on which insects, etc... flourish and what is the best way to tip the balance in favor of bugs that share plants instead of totally destroying them?

I've been trying to stay organic in my yard, but the bugs win. There are bugs that I can't even find in the bug book. The Root Vine Borer has been the worse, but everything has something eating it. I haven't done much organic spraying this year, tried beneficial nematodes & praying mantis. A grape vine that was only a few years old died. There are termites in some fencing, that I think may have got that, not sure. I feel like my yard is cursed! I probably need to go back to square one and have a better plan. Any help is appreciated.

Answer: Extremes in soil pH can attract or eliminate insects but I don't recommend you try to adjust your soil's pH. If you did, you might find that no plants at all would grow. I think your plants and the beneficial insects you want to attract will do best if you amend your soil with organic matter. You can start small - a single flower bed, for instance. Dig out all the plants, then spread 4-5" of organic matter (compost, aged manure, etc.) over the top of the soil. Dig it in to a depth of 8-10", then level the area and plant or replant. Once the planting is finished, spread another 2-3" of organic matter over the bare soil to help suppress weeds and slow evaporation. Systematically going through your landscape and amending the soil will result in wonderfully rich and well draining soil, which will help your plants thrive. Healthy plants are better able to tolerate insect populations. And, if you have lots of different kinds of flowers blooming all season long, you'll attract beneficial insects. These beneficials will help keep the populations of destructive insects in check.

Good luck with your landscape!

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