As a pest control service, it may seem odd to see us advocating for some insects’ survival. However you may feel about bugs, there are some bugs that you’ll want to keep around your garden as they prey on pests and more harmful insects throughout the year. Some of these are quite easy to spot – others you’ll have to squint to get a good look at, but these are three beneficial bugs that you’ll want to make peace with as they make your life easier in their own small way.
Here’s one of the beneficial bugs that a lot of us know already. Even people who don’t like bugs frequently don’t have a problem with ladybugs – Easily recognized by their black heads with tiny white spots, and round red bodies covered in black spots; they’re so cute some German car manufacturers take their style as inspiration. Beyond the look, though, they’re quite lethal predators.
Ladybugs start their lives as tiny black and yellow dragon-looking grubs. These grubs have yellow spots behind what looks like the head and arms, and they love to eat aphids. While an adult ladybug can gobble down 20 or so in a day, a baby ladybug (called a larva) can eat over 250 in a day! They don’t stop chowing down, so if you have an aphid problem, consider planting some dill or hanging on to some dandelions to attract ladybugs to your yard. They also put a dent in whitefly and Colorado potato bug populations, so they’re one of our best friends in the bug world.
Did you know ladybugs are a type of beetle? That makes them a distant relative of the ground beetle. Recognized by a dark black shell, two pairs of back-facing legs, one pair of front-facing legs, ribbed wing covers, and a broad little head, these insects are active hunters of some of the most damaging pests in our gardens. They also tend to be a little on the large side, so if you’re squeamish, they can be a bit alarming.
They’re attracted to clover and amaranth, as well as evening primrose… So having these in your garden is a sure way to have a population of ground beetles keeping your garden safe from caterpillars and cutworms. Still, they also sink their little jaws into slugs that might be eating up your vegetable garden! Ground beetles aren’t quite as ravenous as their ladybug relatives, but both adults and larva will harmlessly cut down on your garden pest population.
Minute Pirate Bugs
Finally, a proper bug as one of the beneficial bugs! While we’ve played fast and loose with terminology, technically, the only insects that are “bugs” are insects with sucking mouthparts in the order Hemiptera. That includes minute pirate bugs, which are tiny, vicious little creatures. These minor bugs (which can barely reach 3mm in size!) are oftenin greenhouses to feast on mites and thrips. They seem to enjoy eating thrips so much that they will continue to kill thrips even when they’re full and no longer require a meal!
It’s not uncommon to find a minute pirate bug happily skewering mites and other bugs on its goofy-looking beak long after it’s eaten its share. On average, they will consume around 25 thrips each per day, but in heavy infestations of thrips or mites, they will kill far more daily. Any gardener can tell you what pest spider mites are, so if you somehow happen to notice these silent little heroes in your garden – Salute and let them be on their way. Plant some spearmint or alfalfa to attract them to your garden.
As beneficial as these three can be, if they get to be too much for you, give us a call, and you can ask our advice on thinning their numbers, too.