Insect netting as a barrier to protect garden plants against pest insects has always been used. A well-known and trusted gardening method for protecting plants from a wide range of pest insects, they are however made from plastic. Until InsectoNet!
Insect proof mesh is a non-chemical solution for protecting many garden plants. The main purpose of insect proof mesh is to keep pest insects off of crops. Creating a physical barrier can be an effective alternative to using chemical pesticides, preventing the problem of pests feeding on your plants before it happens rather than spraying chemical pesticides as a cure once they are already present and feeding. Insect netting can be used in a garden to protect plants from a wide range of garden pests including cabbage root fly, carrot fly, cabbage white butterfly, pea moth, leek moth, cutworm, onion fly, thrips, whitefly, leaf miners and many species of aphid (greenfly and blackfly).
Why use insect netting?
Insect netting is the first step in protecting your fruit and vegetable plants from damaging insects. Using insect nets to protect plants helps the plants stay healthy and strong to grow and produce crops to harvest free from insect damage.
Using insect netting prevents insect pests getting to plants where they lay their eggs which hatch and develop into larvae, often causing more damage than the adult themselves. Preventing pest insects accessing plants reduces the need to use chemical pesticides in the garden to control pest insects.
There are many types of netting used by gardeners to protect vegetable patches and fruit bushes. The better ones not only aim to protect the plant from insects, but achieve this without disrupting the normal air flow and sunlight needed for the plants to grow and thrive.
Examples of different types of garden netting:
- Fleece: Very fine holes designed to retain heat to help plants grow under cooler conditions.
- Insect netting: Insect nets come with fine mesh holes that act as a physical barrier to prevent pest insects getting to the plants, whilst maintaining sufficient airflow and sunlight to not prevent plant growth.
- Butterfly netting: Larger holes than insect netting, these are designed to only keep out larger butterflies. This will not keep out smaller insects, both helpful pollinators and plant damaging pests.
- Bird netting: Netting with large enough holes to allow insects to pass through, for example pollinating bees, but not large enough to allow birds onto the plants where they will peck at fruits.
InsectoNet can be used on a range of fruit and vegetable crop plants to protect them from many pest insects. Plants suitable for InsectoNet use include: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, turnips, swede, radish, carrot, parsnip, onions, leeks, beans, peas, celery, spinach, parsley, lettuce, oriental vegetables, strawberries, raspberries and currants.
Why use InsectoNet?
Similar to other insect nets, InsectoNet allows you to protect your plants from the damage of feeding insects. A physical barrier to prevent pest insects getting to your plants, it is a first line of defence. InsectoNet has been engineered to achieve this protection whilst not reducing the ability of the plants it is protecting to thrive with minimal disruption to light and air passage (88% light penetration).
Affects which insects are kept out
Reducing sunlight reduces a plants ability to grow
Low airflow increases the risk of plant disease development
Risk of weighing down plants and inhibiting their growth
The biggest benefit though of using InsectoNet is to the environment. Made from plants not petroleum means more sustainable manufacturing. It also means no long-term environmental consequences as future generations wait hundreds of years for disguarded plastic insect netting to breakdown. InsectioNet gives all of the benefits of insect netting, without the need to use plastic!
How to use InsectoNet
InsectoNet is used in the same way as any other insect netting, it just happens to not be made out of plastic.
InsectoNet can either be laid directly over the plants or put on top of a supporting structure, for example made from wire or bamboo canes. If laid directly onto the plants, its weight of 34g/m2 means InsectoNet is light enough to be lifted as the plants grow. If being used over structures, for example to make a insect netting tunnel, the InsectoNet can be attached to the structure in the same way as any insect netting using clips or ties. It is important however that this does not make a hole in the netting which insects can get through to attack the plants within. It is also important to ensure the insect netting is secured where it meets the ground, again so that there are no gaps for pest insects to crawl through to get to the plants. Where the insect netting meets the ground is a common weak point in the barrier defence, often overlooked in the battle against what are primarily thought of as flying pest insects. If the size of the InsectoNet needs to be adjusted, it can be easily cut with scissors.
Easy to install, InsectoNet garden netting should be used to cover plants immediately after planting or sowing. Ensure that the plants are free from insect pests before covering and leave covered until harvest. Fruits and vegetables which require pollination by insects, such as bees, should have InsectoNet removed during flowering.
Using InsectoNet will not interfere with regular jobs such as watering and feeding plants. Water and feed can be applied the plants directly through the insect netting without the need to remove it. It is however usually necessary to uncover plants every few weeks to weed and thin seedlings of seed grown plants.
Insects can sometimes lay eggs through the mesh if the mesh is touching the plant or the mesh size is not fine enough. Best practice when using InsectoNet (or any other insect netting) is to ensure the insect net is not touching any plants to reduce the pest insects ability to do this.
What is InsectoNet?
InsectoNet feels like plastic netting, and is just as strong. Whilst plastic insect netting is made from petroleum derived plastic materials such as polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE), InsectoNet is made from polylactic acid (PLA) a bioplastic derived from a renewable source: corn starch. The PLA material is completely biodegradable (according to standard EN13432). After it has completed its job in your garden for a couple of years and had been disguarded, it will gradually decompose rather than remaining for hundreds of years as plastic netting will.
InsectoNet can be used to protect outdoor plants for at least 2 years. After 2 years of being exposed to the sun and weather it may start to weaken.
Plants need light to grow, and putting a layer of netting over the plants might seem as if you are reducing the light which gets to them, and therefore their ability to grow. InsectoNet however, has been specifically designed to allow a high level of light penetration so as not to reduce plant growth.
When NOT to use Insect Netting
As well as understanding how to get the best performance and value out of insect protective netting, it is also important to understand when not to use it. Some varieties and some plants have ongoing flowering periods where there is a constant flush of flowers waiting to be pollinated by insects such as bees to turn into harvestable produce. Insect netting acts as a barrier to all insects, good and bad. Therefore insect netting should not be used on plants such as strawberries, currant bushes and courgettes which require insect pollination whilst the plants are in flower.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the mesh size of InsectoNet?
InsectoNet has a mesh size (size of the holes in the net) of 850µm (0.85mm). With gaps less than 1 mm, InsectoNet will protect plants from a range of insects including butterflies, whitefly and aphids.
Does garden netting block the sun?
Different insect nets allow different amounts of light through and therefore will affect plant growth differently. InsectoNet has been specifically designed to minimise the amount of light blocked to not interfere with plant growth. Laboratory studies have shown that despite its fine mesh size, InsectoNet allows 88% light penetration.
Will laying insect netting on top of plants squash them?
Laying InsectoNet directly onto your plants will not squash them. Weighing only 34 grams per square meter, as long as there is slack to allow it to move, plants will be able to lift InsectoNet as they grow.
Why is mesh size of insect netting important?
The mesh size of an insect net refers to the size of the holes in the netting. The smaller the holes (mesh size) the smaller the insects it will protect against. InsectoNet has a mesh size of 850µm (0.85mm).
How do you water plants under insect netting?
Watering plants covered by InsectoNet is simple. You can either temporarily remove the netting and water the soil around the plants taking the opportunity to inspect or harvest the plants before replacing the netting. Alternatively, you can simply gently water over the top of the netting without removing it. The water will flow through the fine holes in the netting to the soil beneath. Note however to avoid the InsectoNet being pushed onto the soil and sitting in puddles or damp soil which can happen when watering heavily through an insect net.
Can I adjust the size of the InsectoNet?
Yes. If a different size or shape of InsectoNet is required, it can simply be cut to the required size or shape with scissors. Because of its high-quality weaved manufacturing process, the edges of the insect net will not fray or unwind if cut.
Will using insect netting prevent bee pollinating plants?
InsectoNet acts as a barrier to all insects. If the insect netting is left covering the plant through the flowering period, it will prevent bees and other pollinating insects reaching the flowers and pollinating them. For fruits and vegetables which require insect pollination (for example strawberries, raspberries and blueberries) insect netting should be removed during the flowering period to allow the pollinating insects access to the flowers.
What types of insects can InsectoNet be used to protect plants from?
InsectoNet insect netting can be used to protect plants against many insects including: cabbage root fly, carrot fly, cabbage white butterfly, pea moth, leek moth, cutworm, onion fly, thrips, whitefly, leaf miners and many species of aphid (greenfly and blackfly).
Does insect mesh work?
Yes. Insect netting creates a physical barrier to provide a reliable way of keeping pest insects away from fruit and vegetable plants so preventing them from causing damage.
Do you need netting for vegetables?
You do not need it, but insect netting is a great first step to protecting your fruit and vegetable plants from a range of damaging insects which will try to eat your plants including root flies, moths, leafminers and butterflies.
What can you grow under insect netting?
You can grow anything under insect netting. InsectoNet has been specifically designed to act as a barrier to prevent pest insects feeding on your plants whilst still allowing sunlight and water through to ensure healthy plant growth.
What is bioplastic insect netting?
A bioplastic is a material which is manufactured from a natural plant source instead of petroleum. Two of the most common starting materials for bioplastics are corn and sugar beet. InsectoNet insect netting is a bioplastic made from corn starch. Polylactic acid (PLA) is made from the corn, which is then turned into a thread for weaving InsectoNet. Bioplastic insect netting is designed to have the same properties as plastic insect netting, without using petroleum or creating the long environmental impact after they have been used.
What is biodegradable insect netting?
Biodegradability is the process by which a material breaks down into water, carbon dioxide and biomass as a result of microbial activity in the environment around them. International standard EN13432 defines the methods and length of time within which a material should be tested to determine whether it is biodegradable. Bioplastics are not necessarily biodegradable according to this standard. InsectoNet is classified as biodegradable according to EN13432, and is another example of how Andermatt are helping to improve the sustainability of gardening and reducing our impact on the environment.