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Seasoned gardener issues warning against buying insects to rid your garden of pests: 'They are poached by the millions'

"There are ladybugs all over to eat the aphids."

Pest-eating insects in gardening

Photo Credit: @solarpunkfarmer / Tiktok

Letting store-bought insects loose in your garden might seem like a good way to get rid of plant-eating pests like aphids, but as one TikToker is showing us, there's a cheaper, more long-term solution. 

The scoop 

TikToker @solarpunkfarmer, whose videos offer tips on gardening, composting, and garden-friendly bugs, posted a hack for getting rid of garden pests without using pesticides or buying insects. 

Pests such as aphids and mites can damage your garden, so buying insects that eat these pests may seem like a great solution. However, @solarpunkfarmer warns that store-bought bugs are often non-native species, so they won't want to stick around in your garden, and they may have been illegally captured. 

"They are poached by millions," the TikToker says in their clip

@solarpunkfarmer Do NOT buy "beneficial insects!" 👎🙅 . . #beneficialinsects #lacewing #lacewings #gardentok #planttok #planttoktips #gardentips #gardening101 #gardenbugs #gardenpest #gardenpestcontrol #permaculture #sustainablegardening #solarpunkfarmer #solarpunk ♬ original sound - 🌱☀️ The Solarpunk Farmer ☀️🌱

Instead, they suggest researching what local insect eats the pest you're trying to get rid of and then planting flowers that will attract that insect right into your garden. 

"If you plant their favorite food sources and provide them habitats, they will come, there's no need to buy any bugs from the store," they say. 

This way, your garden will get a constant, all-natural pesticide while also providing for local wildlife. 

You can find a list of pest-eating insects here

How it's helping 

This hack is a fantastic way to save money on your garden (pesticides can cost around $30 per gallon), and lacewing bugs — which are known to eat aphids — can cost around $14 for a box of eggs.

However, you can transplant local plants or collect seeds to attract the insects you need for free — and these ones will stick around because they're already in their natural habitat. 

Plus, you'll avoid accidentally buying poached insects. The U.S. Department of the Interior reports that many poached animals die before they even reach their destination, and once they're taken out of their environment, it's extremely difficult for them to survive in the wild.

What everyone's saying 

TikTokers were supportive and eager to share their own success stories. 

"I let mallows grow in my yard and I'm getting a full on ladybug infestation. It's awesome," one wrote. 

"Yes!" another added. "I'm so proud of my chemical-free yard. There are ladybugs all over to eat the aphids, it's an ecosystem on its own."

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