Ground Beetles Are Helpful Garden Insects

Attracting beneficial insects, such as the ground beetle, is an important part of organic pest control.
By Barbara Pleasant
January 18, 2013

The busy ground beetles' diet can help control slugs, asparagus beetles, caterpillars, Colorado potato beetles, corn earworms, cutworms, squash vine borers and tobacco budworms.
Illustration By Keith Ward


Content Tools

Related Content

Celebrate Groundhog Day!

Every Feb. 2, Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his home at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Penn. to se...

Earth Gauge Tip of the Week — Four Faunal Forecasters

Does Punxsutawney Phil have competition for 'predicting' the weather? Take a look at these other ani...

Flowers Add Beauty and Diversity to the Vegetable Garden

There are many logical reasons for adding flowers to your vegetable garden: attracting beneficials, ...

This article is part of our Organic Pest Control Series, which includes articles on attracting beneficial insects, controlling specific garden pests, and using organic pesticides.  

Ground Beetles (Coleoptera)

Most of the 2,500 ground beetle species are one-eighth to 1 1/2 inches long, dark, shiny and hard-shelled. Shape and color varies among species, with most being brown to black while others have metallic backs. Ground beetles live in the soil beneath mulches, around compost piles, or in the sheltered areas around perennials plants. Some of these beneficial garden insects create vertical tunnels that they use to ambush and trap prey, but most ground beetles wander about feeding at night. Compared with other garden insects, ground beetles are long-lived and may inhabit the garden for more than a year, overwintering as adults.

Ground Beetle Diet  

Ground beetles will try to eat almost anything that moves, including asparagus beetles, cabbage worms, Colorado potato beetles, corn earworms, cutworms and slugs. Some are also important consumers of weed seeds. Ground beetles also eat earthworms, but their benefits outweigh this small flaw. Ground beetles cannot climb, so their foraging range is limited to the soil’s surface and top few inches of moist soil. 

How to Attract Ground Beetles 

Maintain stable habitats for ground beetles consisting of nicely mulched perennial plants that are customarily watered in dry weather. Flat stones or boards also serve ground beetles by providing safe places to rest during the day. Grow clovers in pathways. Bushy amaranth plants also are attractive to ground beetles. Do not use pesticides in the garden, as ground beetles are highly sensitive to anything but Bt. (Bacillus thuringiensis). Ground beetles can be collected from rotting logs or the wood pile and released in the garden.

More information about these helpful garden insects is available from Washington State University, University of Minnesota, and Cornell University.








Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.