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Self-Sustaining Garden: Beneficial Insects

Leonid Batkhan | November 2011

http://www.e-lections.us/self-sustaining-garden-beneficial-insects.html


The best and most natural way of setting up a garden is to take advantage of the natural processes that make it a self-sustaining system. To achieve that you should select a right combination of plants that benefit each other and attract beneficial insects that maintain ecological balance by preying on destructive pests as well as performing other vital functions such as pollination.

Here are the most beneficial insects that you should strive to attract into your garden.

Ladybugs

Ladybugs (Coccinella magnifica) – also known as ladybirds (UK) or lady beetles are beneficial insects which help controlling many pests.

Adult Ladybug:

Adult Ladybug

Adult Ladybugs are small (up to 10 mm), rounded and brightly-colored. They usually have red or orange glossy wing covers with black spots. Some species always have the same pattern of colors and spots, but in some species individual beetles can have very different colors.

Adult Ladybugs and their larvae feed on a variety of pest insects and mites, notably aphids and scales.

However, lately their population changed considerably in many places supposedly due to ecological and climatological factors. Cornell University entomologists in Ithaca, NY, formed the Lost Ladybug Project to investigate why the nine-spotted and two other ladybug species that were once common in North America had become so rare (see: Scientists try to bring back ladybugs).

Lacewings

A common green lacewing (Chrysoperla rufilabris) control many different pests. Adult lacewings do not kill pest insects themselves; it is their predacious larvae that feed on many soft-bodied pest insects such as aphids, thrips, spider mites, sweet potato and greenhouse whitefly, mealybugs, leafhoppers, and the eggs and caterpillars of most pest moths.

Adult Lacewing:

Adult Lacewing

Lacewing Larva:

Lacewing Larva

Hoverflies

Hoverflies (Syrphidae) are also known as hover flies, syrphid flies, flower flies and drone flies. They prey on soft-bodied insects including aphids, scales, thrips and caterpillars

Hoverfly (image by David Iliff):

Adult Hoverfly, image by David Iliff

Adult hover flies are important pollinators and can be found feeding at flower blossoms or around aphid colonies, where they lay their eggs. The larvae of hover flies are important predators of pests, such as aphids, scales, thrips and caterpillars.

Many species of hover flies mimic bees or wasps in their appearance and behavior. They even wave their front legs to imitate the antennae of the potter wasps. However, one can easily tell the hover flies from bees or wasps by their wings: flies have two wings and wasps and bees have four.

 
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