Beneficial Insects Eliminate Bad Insects From the Garden

Beneficial insects and parasites remove harmful insects from the garden without pesticides, includes a list of insects helpful to the garden.

| May/June 1978

  • Eliminate problem insects using predatory beneficial bugs in the garden.
    Eliminate problem insects using predatory beneficial bugs in the garden.
    Photo By Fotolia/Denis Tabler

  • Eliminate problem insects using predatory beneficial bugs in the garden.

These beneficial insects will eliminate bad bugs from your garden without the use of harmful pesticides.

Using Beneficial Bugs in the Garden

When it comes to controlling insect pests in the garden, you have basically two choices: [1] You can apply chemical pesticides and hope that your health holds out longer than it takes the uninvited bugs to become resistant. [2] You can save your money, save your health, do a good turn for the planet, and boost your overall yields dramatically by turning natural predators — including other insects! — loose on your unwanted garden visitors. 

Once, not long ago, while I was inspecting my roses, I spied a tiny green insect creeping up one plant's stem. Though it was legless, the wormlike creature moved toward a nearby aphid colony with remarkable speed. Then, just short of the colony, it stopped, and — stretching its body forward quickly — the little beast took what looked like a blind swing at the aphids. To my surprise, contact was made on the first try. An aphid kicked and struggled as the legless (and apparently sightless) marauder wheeled it up high overhead. In a few moments, the invader flung its victim's shrunken skin aside and went after another aphid . . . then another . . . and another . . . until the entire colony was completely wiped out.

Meanwhile, it seemed that a tiny, gray, alligator-shaped insect had been patrolling another stem. This little beast, which had long, curved "pincers" at the front of its head, literally raced along until it spotted a lone aphid. Then, with startling fierceness, the "alligator" seized and pierced its victim with those hypodermic-needle pincers and refused to let go until the aphid's body was a mere shell.

I didn't know it at the time, but the first insect I'd observed was a syrphid fly larva, which — I learned — is indeed eyeless. And the little "alligator" that so aggressively scoured my rose bush was — I later learned a lacewing larva, more commonly known as an aphidlion. Both creatures, it turned out, had been voluntarily practicing biological control in my garden.

Biological Insect Control: The Only Way to Go

I'm now firmly convinced — after having studied my own backyard pest situation in some detail — that biological control (especially the eradication of "bad" insects by "good" ones) is the only way to go when it comes to zapping pests in the garden. By letting insects do the work of chemical pesticides, you not only save money (since pesticides are — as a rule — expensive) . . . but you [1] help conserve petroleum (the "raw material" from which many pesticides are made), [2] ensure your — and your family's — continued good health, and [3] do not needlessly pollute the biosphere.


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