Worst post on trap plants ... ever

 Datura and potatoes.  Datura took all the flea beetle damage. 

Datura and potatoes.  Datura took all the flea beetle damage. 

Gardening season is coming and I know you have the itch to pull the weeds that will be sprouting up.  But, you might be pulling some serious helpers. 

Don't forget to let (or plant) Lady's thumb or other SmartWeeds in the garden. They are much lower to the ground than other Japanese beetle trap plants (wild rose, wild grape, gaura biennis, sassafras etc), so the chickens can reach and eat them (and my dog actually eats them too). They are also beautiful and lush.  Plus if you get poison ivy you can do a spit poultice with the leaf.  

These plants attract Halictid bees (sweat bees) and Syrphid flies,  and both of their babies eat aphids. Woo hoo!

They attract wasps which are great in the garden. I love working in the garden looking for cabbage worms and the wasps are right there with me doing their morning chores as well. I've never been stung working in the garden, even when working the same plant. They are amazing to watch--quick, systematic, efficient.

Some people say that trap plants attract more bugs to the garden, but my experience doesn't show that. I've been testing trap plants for many years now. What my testing shows is that when the same trap plants are elsewhere, very far away from the garden, I don't see as many pests on them.  Especially in the case of flea beetles and horse nettle, there are none.  

When the trap plants are near, in or around the garden, there are more pests on them than on the annuals that I love. In some cases the plants will be touching (like in the picture above) and the trap plant is almost decimated and the potato (for example) is not touched. I think the annuals draw the pests in, then they say "hey, I'd rather eat that over there".

Don't forget about the insanely beneficial horsenettle and datura in the garden too. Flea beetles love them much more than the potatoes and other plants. Plus their seeds aren't air-born and easy to control.

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06/22/17 Update:
Here are pictures of horse nettle in the garden:

 

 Horse nettle in the garden

Horse nettle in the garden

 More Horse nettle taking the damage, baby watermelon... no damage. 

More Horse nettle taking the damage, baby watermelon... no damage. 

 Horse nettle not near the annuals garden

Horse nettle not near the annuals garden

 Horse nettle not near annuals

Horse nettle not near annuals

 Frostweed near the annuals

Frostweed near the annuals

 Frostweed not near the annuals... not one bug on them. 

Frostweed not near the annuals... not one bug on them.