VA.PHC

Plant Health Care in Richmond, VA

Garden insects: The good, the bad and the neutral

leave a comment »

I love this article.

You go girl.

http://m.idahopress.com/content/tncms/live/

Garden insects: The good, the bad and the neutral

By Debbie Cook Gardening | Posted 18 hours ago

There are more than a million species of insects, but only a small percentage will bother our gardens. More than half of all insects are either predators or parasites of other insects. Left alone, the good bugs will usually keep the other insects at a tolerable level. The bad guys always show up first. The good guys wait until dinner is on the table before they arrive, then show up with big appetites.

Ladybugs are good, but the larvae are even better at eating insects. Ladybugs eat aphids, scale, mealy bugs, spider mites and small insect eggs. A single ladybug can consume more than 5,000 aphids in its life.

Lacewings are green or brown and have lacy wings. The larvae are known as aphid lions because of their voracious appetite for aphids. They can consume up to 100 insects a day.

Praying mantises hold their hands as if in prayer and have a marble-like head. They might be green or tan or will generally match their surroundings to avoid being seen. The egg sacks can be found on fences, swing sets, lawn furniture or tree branches and are a tan, hard, foamy-looking capsule. These insects are not the least bit discriminating and will eat harmful insects, beneficial insects and even each other if the pickings are slim. Grasshoppers seem to be a favorite of this insect.

Tiny little wasps called trichogramma are parasitic wasps that attack the eggs of more than 200 garden pests. This wasp lays eggs inside the eggs of other insects. Different types of parasitic insects lay their eggs inside the bodies of other insects and the emerging larvae feed on the insides of the host insect. Yikes!

Dragonflies do more than make a neat tattoo design. They catch insects in mid-air and eat on the run. Mosquitoes and other flies make up a large part of their diet.

Black ground beetles eat grubs and eggs in the soil.

Yellow jackets and wasps are beneficial, too, as long as they’re not trying to join the picnic. They eat caterpillars and other harmful insects that cause problems.

These insects are commonly seen in our gardens, but there are dozens more that we don’t recognize as being good guys. Don’t feel the immediate need to kill every insect you see. Realize that the majority of insects we see are neither good nor bad. They’re just insects.

Beneficial insects should be encouraged. They are free insect control.

Plant things with umbel-type (think umbrella) flowers like dill, fennel, Queen Anne’s lace and parsley. This type of flower encourages beneficial insects to take up residence. If you decide to try biological control, avoid using insecticides as that will kill the good guys, too.

We’ll never be bug-free, no matter what method of insect control we choose. If we can live with some insect damage, biological pest control is an effective and responsible way to control garden pests.

• Debbie Cook is the host of the D&B Gardening radio show, a horticultural assistant, advanced master gardener and certified arborist. Email her at dcook.

Advertisements

Written by vaphc

June 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: