Gardening good guys

Submitted Photo 
Lady bug larvae are great pest predators.

Submitted Photo Lady bug larvae are great pest predators.

Not all insects we find in our gardens are bad. There are some who are big help in keeping plant pests such as aphids, caterpillars, and flea beetles in check. They do this by eating the adults and larvae of the prey. Here are a few of the “Garden Good Guys.” Encourage them to stay in your garden. If you find these bugs in your garden, avoid spraying if at all possible. Insecticides will kill all insects including the beneficial one.

Ground beetles

The nocturnal ground beetles are a voracious predator of slugs, snails, cutworms, cabbage maggots and other pests that live in your garden’s soil. Both the adults and larvae eat pests. One beetle larva can eat more than 50 caterpillars. There are a large number of different ones with colors ranging from black and brown to purple or blue tinted and ranging in size from one-fourth inch to three-fourth inch. They spend their days hidden under mulch, rocks, boards or other types of cover.

Lace wings

This predator feeds on harmful insects as both a larvae and adult. They are very heavy feeders on aphids, caterpillars, mites and other small insects. The adult form gives this insect its name with their transparent, “lace-like” wings. The larvae surprisingly does not resemble its adult form and many times are mistaken for a harmful insect.

Lady bugs

There are a large number of different kinds of lady bugs. They range in color from orange to red to yellow to almost black. They can have very few or many spots. But all are predators feeding on harmful insects. The larvae are another immature form which does not resemble its adult form, but also are great pest predators. The coloring is similar, but the “alligator” shape with bumps and nobs on its back make it appear harmful. Not so!! A great garden good guy!!

Take time to learn who the “Garden Good Guys” are in your garden!!

Ken Eraas is the Ward County Extension Horticulture Assistant. You can reach him by calling 857-6444 or emailing kendell.eraas@ndsu.edu.

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