You may have heard the term “trap crop” before, but what exactly is it? A trap crop is a plant used to attract pests from your garden .
These crops are also known as decoy crops or sacrificial plants and are used to help protect valuable plants from pest attacks.
There are many trap crops out there, and each one has its own unique benefits. In this article, we’ll highlight some examples and explain how to use them to protect your vegetable garden.
Below is a list of trap crops you can use on your organic farm.
This is a great decoy plant you can try. It attracts leafhoppers, cabbage worms, aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, flea beetles, and other pests.
When these pests are drawn to the nasturtiums, they’ll leave your vegetables alone. This gives you the chance to get rid of them before they can do any damage.
Beans, cucumber, cabbage, squash, and a lot of other vegetables benefit from nasturtiums planted at the borders of the gardens.
Lovage is fantastic at drawing tomato hornworm, celery worm, tarnished plant bug, and leaf miner away from plants like potatoes and tomatoes and even some fruit crops.
The method of planting is row intercrop.
Pests that will flock to chervil include aphids, carrot rust fly larvae, and slugs.
Moreover, the great thing about this trap crop is that beneficial insects like bees and hoverflies are also attracted to the plant, making it a great choice for controlling pest populations in the garden.
You can plant chervil between rows of or next to vulnerable plants like lettuce, broccoli, carrots, radishes, cabbages, and kale.
The pests that dill attracts are quite varied. Some of these pests that like dill include spider mites, parsley worms, aphids, and tomato hornworms.
The beauty of this herb is that it also attracts beneficial insects such as ladybugs, hover flies, and lacewings. Plant between rows of good companion plants.
5. French Marigold
You won’t go wrong with French Marigold. It is a highly effective and useful trap crop.
Use French Marigold to draw away slugs, Japanese beetles, and other bad bugs.
Another perk is that it kills bad nematodes and attracts hoverflies and ladybugs. Plant it between the rows of crops or at garden edges.
Radishes can be planted close to your prized crops and will act as bait for insects such as aphids, cabbage maggots, cutworms, flea beetles, and harlequin bugs.
When planted near other compatible vegetables, this root crop will attract insects away from those vegetables.
Squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers are all good vegetables to consider planting alongside your radishes.
7. Blue Hubbard Squash
You also can’t go wrong with Blue Hubbard squash.
This kind of squash is an effective trap crop because it naturally attracts pests like cucumber beetles and squash bugs, while also providing a source of food for your kitchen.
Squash vine borers are also fond of this plant.
Sunflowers attract a wide variety of pests — including weevils, wireworms, earwigs, snails, and cutworms.
Specifically, they save your vegetable crops from these pests when planted between rows or at garden borders. They also attract birds which can help keep harmful insects under control as well.
Millet plants are generally attacked by grasshoppers, midges, thrips, hairy caterpillars, and other pests.
Plant some millet near your vegetable plants, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly the pests flock to it.
If you’re growing tomatoes, you can plant Amaranth close by to deter aphids.
Cucumber beetles, leafminers, and beet webworms also attack Amaranth. Therefore, plant it near crops that these pests go after and they’ll likely flock to it instead.
Growing sorghum close by attracts a number of pests, such as armyworms, corn earworms, white grubs, sugarcane borers, and corn aphids.
The trick is to keep it in a different part of the garden so that the pests won’t travel to your other plants.
Zinnias also help protect your vegetables by luring away harmful pests. In particular, zinnias attract aphids, thrips, beetles, caterpillars, spider mites, and scales.
Zinnias also attract rabbits.
By planting a few of these bright flowers around garden beds and plots of affected plants, you can keep the pests away.
Mustard attracts its fair share of pests. This is because it’s an attractive food source for certain insects like diamondback moths, aphids, flea beetles, and grasshoppers.
You can plant mustard crops as part of a “decoy trap plants” strategy in your vegetable garden.
Eggplant is also really good at attracting a wide variety of pests.
It is an attractive resting spot for hornworms, leaf-footed bugs, Colorado potato beetles, and stink bugs. In addition, two-spotted spider mites and certain species of beetles are also drawn to eggplant.
Plant it next to plants it’s compatible with.
Geraniums attract pests like mealybugs, Japanese beetles, scales, greenflies, budworms, cabbage loopers, and mites.
You can plant them in your yard and watch as the pests flock to them instead of your plants.
Okra is another ideal choice  — it’s especially good for attracting stink bugs, corn earworms, beetles, leaf-footed bugs, spiders, ants, and caterpillars.
To make it even better, okra flowers may also attract helpful insects like wasps, dragonflies, green lacewings, and ladybugs which will help control the population of pesky bugs in your garden.
Tansy is especially good at attracting the ragwort seed fly, cinnabar moths, and Tansy beetles.
By planting tansy near affected crops, you’ll be able to create a barrier that these pests just won’t cross.
Where to Buy Seeds?
SeedsNow is a great online medium to start. You can also check with your local garden store.
Trap cropping is a clever way to manage pests in your garden, and it’s a technique that’s been used for centuries. By planting a crop that’s attractive to pests, you can keep them away from the good stuff and reduce the damage they do.