Saturday, February 20, 2010

Good Bugs

(Monster-sized lady beetle models from Master Gardener display “Good Bugs/Bad Bugs” at Adventures in Agriculture at Palmer Mall, Easton, PA 2/14/10.)

If we need another reason to limit our use of insecticides, the risk of killing all the good bugs as well as the bad bugs makes a strong argument. As my grandmother used to say, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

One of my favorite references “The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control” provides a list of good bugs (as well as pests). It includes a description, locale, life cycle and how to attract. The illustrations are outstanding. I’m sorry I can’t publish the pictures. How many do you recognize by name? My total was 7.

Aphid Midge (Aphidoletes aphidimyza) – larvae feed on aphids
Assassin Bug (Family Reduviidae)– helps suppress flies and caterpillars
Bigeyed Bugs (Geocoris spp.) – valuable predators of aphids, leafhoppers, plant bugs, spider mites and small caterpillars
Braconid Wasps (Family Braconidae) – parasites of elm bark beetles, cabbage worms, hornworms, corn borers, aphids and others.
Bumblebees (Bombus spp.) - pollinators
Damsel Bugs (Family Nabidae) – predator of aphids, leafhoppers, plant bugs, thrips and small caterpillars
Ground Beetles – prey on slugs, snails, cutworms, cabbage root maggots, and other pests that have a soil-dwelling stage
Honeybees (Apis mellifera) - polinators
Hover Flies/Flower Flies (Family Syrphidae) – larvae feed on aphids
Ichneumon Wasps (Family Ichneumonidae) – larva parasites of caterpillars, sawfly, and beetle larvae, and other insects
Lacewings (Chrysoperla (= Chrysopa) spp.) – general predator
Lady Beetles (Family Coccinellidae) – feed on aphids and soft bodied pests
Mealybug Destroyer (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) – prey on aboveground species of mealybugs
Minute Pirate Bug (Orius tristicolor) – predators of thrips, mites, small caterpillars, leafhopper nymphs, other small insects and insect eggs
Mites, Predatory (Family Phytoseiidae) – attack spider mites
Praying Mantid (Mantis religiosa) – catch and devour both pests and beneficial insects
Rove Beetles (Family Staphylinidae) – control aphids, springtails, mites, nematodes, flies, cabbage maggots
Soldier Beetles (Family Cantharidae) – larvae and adults prey on cucumber beetles, corn rootworms, aphids, grasshopper eggs, caterpillars and beetle larvae
Spined Soldier Bug (Podisus maculiventris) – attacks caterpillars and grubs, including tent caterpillars, fall armyworms, sawfly larvae and Mexican been beetle larvae
Tachinid Flies (Family Tachinidae) – predators of cutworms, armyworms. cabbage loopers, gypsy moth larvae and others
Tiger Beetles (Family Cicindelidae) – feed on a variety of insects
Yellow Jackets (Limonius spp.) – predators of flies, caterpillars and other pests. Can be a pest at picnics.

I could go on and on about this book. It’s a good reference for anyone interested in organic gardening. I think the short, illustrated section on “Insect Impostors” is worth the price since I can’t tell a soldier bug from a stink bug.

(University of Delaware Cooperative Extension publication “Beneficial Insects”.)
I had to post a picture of the Krekk Alpacas hanging out at Adventures in Agriculture. Always a big hit. .


Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

Looks like a great book. Very interesting list. I am going to start looking them up to see what they look like.

Marie said...

It's one of my favorite references. I learn something every time I pick it up. Great illustrations too.

donna said...

One good thing about brutally cold temperatures is that lots of bugs/insects get killed off. Unfortunately, that includes both the good and the bad.


Marie said...

I don't miss them. LOL