Wasp statistics

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at sunsite.unc.edu
Sat Sep 27 00:24:19 EDT 1997

This isn't necessarily permaculture related but it is so beautifully
written I thought I'd share it with you all.  LL.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 26 Sep 1997 23:12:54 -0400
From: Jack Dingler <jdingler at onramp.net>
To: garden-ecosystems at sunsite.unc.edu
Subject: Wasp statistics and Re: generalizations

I've only recently discovered this newsgroup.  It was suggested on
rec.gardens.edibles as an organic ng.  After reading a weeks worth of
articles from it, I don't think so.  I have also seen very little
reference to ecosystems.  I am interested in both of these topics and
was hoping for some new information.

Like Mr. Hulet, I've seen many requests and responses for information on
quick fixes.  Though this isn't counter to organic gardening, it does
tend to sidetrack the ecosystem side a bit.  In my limited understanding
of ecosystems, checks and balances are paramount to a healthy
ecosystem.  By using a quick fix, these balances are distorted and the
system can be expected to take some time to recover to a new balance. 
This new balance may or may not have desirable consequences.

I had hoped that this ng would address the issues as they relate to
gardening, so far I haven't seen much that relates to this.  Certainly
these quick fixes, like using pesticides and radical changes in soil
chemistry, have little to do with establishing a garden with a healthy

Most of what I used to know about gardening, I learned from my
grandfather.  He always had a few acres planted somewhere and gave away
countless bushels of produce to everyone he knew.  From him I learned
the proper proportions of high strength fertilizers to use.  I learned
to cover everything but the flowers with chlordane dust.  I learned to
diagnose plant illness.  I learned to kill everything near the garden
that moved under it's own power, except his bees of course.

Two decades later, I'm learning a different approach.  I've gardened for
two years now in small plots around my house.  I've used no artificial
fertilizers and no pesticides.  I've lost crops and learned lessons.  As
my gardens have grown and my perennials have begun to flourish, I've
noticed changes in my local ecosystem.  There is a balance coming into
play.  As a result, I have more insects and arachnids in my yard than
I've seen anywhere in the city.  I'm also getting more out of my
gardens.  I'm getting bigger and better vegetables and more of them.  I
lose some vegetables but gardeners who believe in pesticides do to. 
What has surprised me, is that my losses are small and short term, while
pesticide approach tends to incur larger losses more often.  I don't
believe this is an accident.  I believe anyone can have similar
results.  But our phobias of bugs tend to get in the way.

I'm running out of time to write this post so there isn't much more
rambling room, so I'd like to spawn an ecosystem discussion. :)

Anyone have any good data on the number of paper wasps needed to keep an
area essentially caterpillar free?  I have three large nests with two
species near my yard.  With a total of approximately 50 wasps.  Since
the nests became well established, I have not seen but a few
caterpillars and the damage to my lettuce and cabbage has been
negligible.  I am also interested in information on how I might increase
their numbers earlier in the season so that my spring losses are

Thanks in advance...

*    Jack Dingler     * Zone 8
* jdingler at onramp.net * 
*    Probably not     * 
*    your opinion     *

More information about the permaculture mailing list