We have an exciting visitor this week on the farm! We knew she was an entomologist, but we didn’t know she was a ground beetle expert! We LOVE ground beetles. They are the unsung heroes of the soil surface world! They are beautiful, some are iridescent, and they are humble hard workers. They help to break down manure, they eat weed seeds, and some of them are omnivores so they also are predators of pests. That is a big and important job description.
Carmen gave us a very fun and informative seminar yesterday that she called ‘Bugs ‘n Beer’. She described the role of beneficial insects in farm ecology and told us all kinds of fun stories about what beneficials do and all the shenanigans they get up to. She showed us the kinds of habitat they need to do their jobs. She described in gory detail about how they parasitize pests on the farm. In other words, they lay eggs in them, they pierce them and suck their fluids out, trap them in webs, or just eat them. She was very impressed with our farm’s habitat features, like minimal tillage, thick hedgerows, flowering plants in each field, as well as plantings of buckwheat and clover cover crops. She mentioned we could set ground beetle traps to see what we had going on out there. I was keen so we went out after dark to set the traps in between onion and eggplant rows. Even though it was dark, Carmen spotted a bunch of different kinds of ground beetles with her headlamp. I was so proud and thrilled! We saw one with an iridescent gold torso, and one with a fuzzy butt. The next morning we went out to see what we caught and she was surprised to see so many. And surprised to see a larva too. And a rove beetle! Carmen has shared so much good information about farm insect ecology that we now have an idea of what is possible. We are so inspired, and are going to keep making the farm inviting to these amazing little friends.