A Special Bug with Benefits

Few people like finding insects in their homes or even meeting up with them in the great outdoors. And while there are many, many insects that are pests (thus this Guide to Pest Control!), there are also a number of beneficial insects that provide pest control themselves.

 

Some help pollinate fruits and vegetables while others take care of common garden pests.

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Some research has even found that insects generally considered pests, such as a species of cockroach, can actually be beneficial in certain instances.

One of the most common of beneficial insects is the Lady bug, also called the lady beetle or ladybird beetle. This bug is a natural predator of many insects, particularly aphids, scales, mites, and soft-bodied bugs. In fact, according to the University of Kentucky, a single lady bug may eat as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. On a daily basis, developing lady bug larvae consume more than 150 aphids, while adults eat about 50.

Common Beneficial Bugs

A full list of beneficial insects would be nearly impossible to list here, but according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), in addition to the lady bug, the most common beneficial insects and the bugs they feed on are:

 

  • Assassin Bug – feed on beetles, caterpillars
  • Damsel Bugs – caterpillar eggs, fleahoppers, leafhoppers, spider mites
  • Damselflies, Dragonflies – mosquitoes, gnats, flying insects
  • Ground Beetles – snails, slugs, root-feeding insects
  • Lacewings – aphids, caterpillars, whiteflies, thrips
  • Praying Mantis – virtually any insect
  • Predatory Flies – caterpillars, beetle larvae, sawflies
  • Predatory Wasps – virtually any insect
  • Wheel Bugs – caterpillars, moths, squash bugs, cucumber beetles

Controlling Pests With Pests

To integrate beneficial bugs into your pest control efforts around your home and garden, the Maryland DNR recommends that your garden or yard be designed to:

  • Have blooming plants throughout the spring, summer and fall to provide nectar and pollen.
  • Provide a water source.
  • Provide shelter such as leaf litter on the ground or groundcovers.

And that pest control efforts include:

  • Tolerating a few pests until beneficial insects establish.
  • Supplementing natural occurrence of beneficial insects through purchase from a nursery or commercial insectary, if needed.
  • Accurate pest identification prior to treating.
  • Treatments targeted toward the identified pest only when necessary, and use of safer pesticides.

By Haadi