By: Liz Baessler
Lovage is a hardy perennial herb that is native to Europe but naturalized throughout North America, too. Popular especially in southern European cooking, its leaves taste a bit like parsley with sharper hints of anise. It is often eaten in salads or as seasoning in broths. It’s a must for any kitchen herb garden. Because of its usefulness, it is especially upsetting to find it infested with pests – leaves are so much more pleasant to eat when they’re not covered in bugs! Keep reading to learn more about bugs that eat lovage and tips for lovage pest management.
There are a few insect pests that are known to attack lovage. The tarnished plant bug, leaf miner, and celery worm are just a few of the bugs that eat lovage. These bugs should be able to be removed by hand picking or the strong blast of a hose. If a part of a plant is particularly infested, remove it and dispose of it.
It is not uncommon to see ants on lovage plants too. These ants aren’t actually harmful to the plants, but their presence is the sign of another problem. Ants like aphids – they actually farm them so they can harvest their excrement, called honeydew. If see ants on your lovage, this probably means that you have aphids, which are attracted to the plant’s sticky juices. Aphids can usually be removed with a strong spray from a hose. Neem oil is also effective.
Moles and voles are also known to burrow under lovage plants to eat their roots.
Not all pests of lovage plants are truly pests. Lovage flowers attract small parasitic wasps. These wasps lay their eggs inside other bugs – when the egg hatches, the larva eats its way out through its host. Because of this, having flowering lovage in your garden is actually good for deterring pests that might bother other plants.
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Someone gave me a lovage plant two years ago. I had to divide it this year because it had gotten so big. I got 15 divisions from the one plant plus the one division I left in the ground. The gardener gave me the plant as a substitute for celery. I was hoping that my rabbits would eat it, but no such luck with the rabbits.
The lovage was extremely easy to grow. It's a perennial. The taste is similar to celery, but different. I just don't know what to do with it cooking wise. I'll bring the divisions to my garden clubs plant sale, but I'm hoping that someone will have some cooking suggestions. I hate to throw the plant out, but if I don't find a use for it, it's gone.
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Composting is more than good for your garden. It's a way of life.
lets see in the mint post it's mention that it can replace celery in soups. that would be cool.
I think I'll see if it will grow in my garden. It sounds like a great plant to have around.
Insect predators (such as ladybugs, praying mantids, and lacewings) and parasites (such as certain species of tiny wasps) are the garden dwellers typically referred to as beneficial insects, since they take aim at garden pests.
Predators consume other insects, whereas parasites lay eggs on or inside other insects. When the larvae emerge, they feed in or on their hosts, destroying them in the process.
Since insects are the most successful living organisms on Earth, it makes good sense to take advantage of these relationships by pitting one against another, maintaining a reasonable balance. A healthy garden will host a variety of insects that fall into both the pest and beneficial categories. Some will even turn up in both, depending on their life cycle stage and available food.
These insect allies interact in different ways within your garden. A predator might go straight to a pest, take care of it, and then leave or die, for instance. At other times, a desirable insect may have a limited effect on a large population of target pests, but will settle in with a small population that reduces the pest levels over time. Some "good" guys, such as praying mantids, might eat just a few pests, and then fly away, or eat a wide variety of pests, but fail to control any outbreaks of a single pest type. Realize, though, that predators and parasites certainly don't make our distinctions between "bad" and "welcome" garden visitors, so they may also dine on your preferred visitors, such as butterfly larvae.
The following information features the lowdown on a few of the most common beneficial insects that target pests. You can order such organisms from a science or beneficial insect supplier if you want to control an outbreak or set up investigations. Better yet, try to create a garden or habitat that will attract helpful creatures. In addition to those listed, there are scads of other beneficial insects that probably already inhabit your garden. These include such seamy-sounding characters as assassin bugs, soldier beetles, big-eyed bugs, spined soldier bugs, and hover flies. Challenge your students to be keen garden sleuths who observe and identify these characters that call your school garden home.
Green lacewings target leafhoppers, mites, aphids, thrips, mealybugs, and whiteflies. The larvae (sometimes called aphid lions) are voracious aphid predators. The adults feed on flower nectar and honeydew produced by aphids and other sucking insects. You can buy eggs or larvae from suppliers and can attract adults in most areas of the U.S. by planting flowers with abundant nectar.
Lady beetles target aphids, leafhoppers, scales, mites, mealybugs. These familiar creatures, in both larval and adult stages, feed on soft-bodied insects, especially aphids. You can attract them by planting nectar plants (nectar is an alternate food source) and those that attract aphids. These include alyssum, legumes, and flowers in the Umbelliferae family (dill, wild carrot, fennel, yarrow, and so on).
Parasitic or predatory wasps target caterpillars, aphids, mealybugs, leafhoppers, greenhouse whiteflies. Encarsia formosa are small wasps that parasitize greenhouse whiteflies. Trichogramma wasps parasitize wasps parasitize eggs of leaf-eating caterpillars such as cabbage loopers.
Praying mantids target most pest insects and eggs. They can be wonderful allies for gardeners (and great fun to watch), but they eat such a variety of insects that you wouldn't want to use them for an outbreak of any one pest.
Insect Appeal: Inviting in the Good Guys
Create a garden that offers food, shelter, and nesting sites that beneficial insects need, and they'll beat a path to your oasis. Here are some tips on making your garden alluring.
Avoid using pesticides and herbicides. Beneficial insects and their food sources can be harmed and a healthy balance of pests and predators thrown askew when these are broadly used.
Use native plants, when possible. Not only are they well adapted to local growing conditions, but they have co-evolved with, and provide nectar and pollen for, native insects. Many garden plants have been bred to make showy blooms at the expense of producing accessible nectar or pollen.
Grow a variety of plant types. This includes pollen- and nectar-producing plants of different heights and colors that flower at different times during the season. (Many beneficial insects need pollen and nectar if their "target" pests are in low supply.) Some plants nourish different insect life cycle stages. Certain plants actually attract plant pests, such as aphids, which, in turn, attract and keep beneficial insects in the area! You might even leave a small corner of the garden or schoolyard that contains weeds, such as lamb's quarters or pigweed, that beneficial insects visit. Here are a few good plants for enticing and sustaining pest control partners. Flowers: baby's breath, cosmos, goldenrod, nasturtium, tansy, Queen Anne's lace, sunflower, yarrow Herbs: dill, caraway, fennel, lemon balm, lovage, thyme.
Provide water and nesting sites. Challenge your students to figure out how to provide shallow pools of water both above and on the ground. To encourage bees and other pollinators to nest nearby, leave cut plant stems exposed, turn flowerpots with bottom holes upside down, and leave twigs and brush in small piles.
All insects go through different life cycle stages. Can students find evidence of these stages in their outdoor laboratory? The changes that occur as insects change form and mature are classified as either complete or incomplete metamorphosis. In the four stages of complete metamorphosis, an adult lays eggs in a place where offspring will be able to find food (Consider Monarchs and milkweed plants, for instance.) When the larvae hatch, they eat voraciously, repeatedly shedding skin (molting) as they grow. At a certain point, they stop eating and enter the pupa stage, in which they might make cocoons or chrysalids. While inside, the body changes form and an adult emerges that looks very different from the creature of earlier stages. The insects that go through this cycle include butterflies, beetles, and wasps.
Incomplete or gradual metamorphosis involves three stages. The insect also begins life as an egg, which hatches into a nymph (a small-sized version of the adult.) As they feed and grow, nymphs repeatedly shed their skin (exoskeleton). This typically happens several times until the insect reaches its adult size. Examples of insects that go through these stages are true bugs, grasshoppers, and praying mantids.
BY Kevin Lee Jacobs | May 31, 2011 53 Comments
I probably love lovage as much as the ancient Greeks and Romans did. Are you familiar with this Levisticum officinale? To me, the herb tastes like celery on steriods. It grows like a doping athlete, too — up to 9 feet tall if left unchecked. Fortunately, its culinary possibilities are unlimited. Have a look:
Although some in-the-know chefs like to add lovage leaves to a mixed salad, I find the crisp leaves make a marvelous salad all by themselves. And since lovage flowers late in the season, you can enjoy the raw foliage long after arugula, spinach, romain and other lettuces have bolted and become bitter.
The fat, pale-green stalks are delightful too. When I make this succulent Duck Breasts Mirepoix, I often use lovage as a superior, highly-aromatic substitute for regular celery.
And please note: Because the herb’s young stalks are hollow, you can use them for drinking-straws! Trust me — you haven’t lived until you’ve sipped a Bloody Mary through a lovage-stem.
If you live in USDA zones 4-8, lovage will prove perennial for you. Give it full sun, well-draining soil, and one inch of water per week. The plant flourishes in my own, Hudson Valley, NY garden (zone 5-b) from mid-April all the way through late September.
Have I convinced you to add this great herb to your collection of garden edibles? I certainly hope so. You won’t find it at your farmers’ market, let alone your grocery store. Consequently, if you want lovage — you’ll simply have to grow it yourself. The plant is rich in Vitamin C.