Aside from nematodes and parasitoids there are several beneficial bugs to identify and employ, if possible. They may not be deadly parasites but they will still eat more than their share of garden pests.
In my hydroponics garden each year I always attract a spider or two who spins a web between 2 of my plants. Initially my thought was to clear him out but as I calmed myself and thought a little I realized that spiders eat the bugs that eat my plants.
So I left the spider alone and later in the year I noticed she had at least 100 babies in that web, all waiting to attack some juicy bugs. I actually felt like a parent...
So the idea is that some of these creepy-crawlies are beneficial bugs and good to have around your garden...
Here is a list of these beneficial bugs that are available at most hydroponics retail stores:
|A predator mite that feeds on the hatching eggs of thrips and the larval stages. They naturally occur at a ratio of 2 females to every male and each female can lay from 1 to 4 eggs a day.|
These predator mites work best at mild temperatures around 70 degrees fahrenheit and are somewhat resistant to pesticides. For best results they are applied at 10 predator mites per square foot of garden.
|Beneficial bugs that are pretty much the same as Amblyseius Californicus except that spider mites are the choice food. These female mites will actively seek out spider mites and suck them dry.|
|Otherwise known as Green Lacewings. These beneficial bugs are actually beautiful to look at and this picture does not do it justice. They are an all-around voracious predator feeding on spider mites, aphids, thrips, whiteflies, scale and mealybugs and can eat up to 60 aphids an hour.|
Shipped as eggs that are ready to hatch, lacewings are best applied at a rate of 10 eggs per square foot. When received they can be stored in the refrigerator for a short time as long as eggs have not hatched; if they have apply immediately or the cannibilistic larvae will destroy each other.
|Also known as the insidious flower bug, these small predators (2.5 mm) are the most efficient thrips predator around attacking and eating eggs, larvae and all kinds of soft-bodied insect pests.|
These beneficial bugs live for close to 6 weeks and are active hunters, catching prey and sucking the juice out of them replacing it with their own digerstive juices. The only small drawback is that they will bite humans - like a sting but harmless.
|Another voracious predator mite that feeds on all stages of thrips and spider mites (and if food is not available they may feed on each other). They live about 50 days and in that time a female can lay up to 60 eggs that hatch in 2 to 3 days. An adult can eat up to 20 prey per day.|
|These beneficial bugs are actually midges or flies whose larval stage is an efficient aphids predator. They hunt aphids by injecting a toxin into the aphid's leg joints that paralyzes them then they leisurely suck out all the internal juices from the aphid. The female mite will lay up to 70 eggs in her lifetime of 2 to 3 weeks which hatch in 2 to 4 days into little orange larvae that resemble maggots. Each larvae will eat about 70 aphids before turning into an adult.|
|Otherwise known as the common ladybug, this beetle loves to eat aphids. The females can lay up to 1000 eggs in a 3 month period all deposited near an aphid food source.|
|Aka 'Crypts', is a beetle whose adult and larval stage feed upon mealybugs eating up to 250 mealybugs. They have a tendency to take off especially when a food supply is gone. When ordered release immediately if possible. If not then store a few days at room temperature.|
|Called the 'Scale Picnic Beetle', this beetle is very picky about it's diet. It will only eat certain scale insects, the euonymus scale and San Jose scale. They are shipped pre-fed and pre-mated and instantly ready to fly off and eat. Even though they disperse well but remain within the general area, they eat very slow - sometimes taking up to 2 years to clear an infestation. On the up-side they are extremely thorough. Females lay their eggs among scale infestations to hatch and feed. A major drawback to these beetles are their price - extremely expensive!|
|A predator mite that is a hands-down favorite among many. These predator mites eat spider mites, and in great quantities. They are shipped as adults in corn grit or on leaves all ready to disperse and eat. The one great advantage to these mites is that they eat pollen as well as spider mites meaning that once a pest is eradicated they will not leave an area as long as pollen is present so will be around for another spider mite infestation. And to top it off, they survive winters extremely well.|
|Another voracious beetle feeding on spider mites. They are shipped as pre-mated adults in small lots ready to search out spider mite infestations and reproduce. They act fairly quickly and stay around for the long term and they are one of the few mite predators that can actually fly. The ability to fly is a good and bad thing though. Even though it provides easy access to many areas where mites might be it also provides a means for leaving an area fairly quickly. Another drawback is the price of these beetles - they are very expensive!|
|A predator insect preferring a diet of whiteflies. Used on a worldwide basis this insect eats whiteflies as well as spider mites at times. It can be stored in the refrigerator after shipment for a few days and released at a rate of 1 bug per 40 square feet each week for 4 intervals.|
|This predatory bug mainly eats whiteflies but will also go after spider mites, leaf miners and caterpillars. It is one of the few predatory bugs that are recommended for release early in the season even without an active whitefly infestation to allow the population to breed and expand. They will not reduce whitefly populations very fast unless released at high rates. All stages of this fly are mobile and will eat whiteflies.|
Here is a short list of other creatures that feed on insects and are good to have around. And this is just a very short list of many, many such creatures:
|Eaters of Bugs||Description|
|Many bird species eat garden pests, even farm chickens and turkeys.|
|Such a graceful predator - eats all kinds of pests.|
|Spiders will set up a web that collect all manner of insects including pests.|
|Great at stalking it's insect prey.|
|Bats cruise around at sunset looking for any kind of flying insect to eat.|
|Frogs with their long, sticky tongues are great insect catchers.|
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