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Welcoming Beneficial Insects to the Garden

By wildflowers
September 2, 2011

Nature is filled with a wide variety of beneficial insects whose diet consists mainly of the little pests that invade your gardens. Yes, there really are "good bugs" and they are a great way to combat the pests that are ready and waiting to devour and destroy your plants. Some of these good guys may have been hanging around and you didn't realize they were actually keeping pests off of your favorite flowers or vegetables. Let's take a look at some of these beneficial predatory insects so you can learn who your allies are.

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Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
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SongofJoy
Sep 2, 2011 3:49 AM CST
Good article with great pictures for identification. Very helpful. Nice job! Thumbs up
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
Hi Everybody!! Let us talk native.
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Butterflies Garden Ideas: Master Level Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Birds Cat Lover Xeriscape
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frostweed
Sep 2, 2011 8:35 AM CST
Great article Christine, and nice pictures of the bugs, Thank you very much Thumbs up
Wildflowers are the Smiles of Nature.
Gardening with Texas Native Plants and Wildflowers.
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
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SongofJoy
Sep 2, 2011 9:37 AM CST
After reading your article, I kept thinking that I hadn't seen any tomato hornworms this year (not a bad thing). Went out and found this ... some of my beneficials hard at work! Big Grin


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Then coming back in I spotted this guy watching me.

Thumb of 2011-09-02/SongofJoy/b1bf50
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member Birds Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Winter Sowing Herbs
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wildflowers
Sep 2, 2011 10:04 AM CST
Thank you Tee & Josephine. Next, I'd like to talk about some good choices for plants to attract the beneficial bugs to your gardens.

Tee, wow, what a nice find! - it looks like some kind of parasitic wasp (probably Braconid wasp) laid eggs on the hornworms which hatched and the larvae are feeding. Once they pupate, they will seek out other hornworms to parasitize! Thumbs up

How interesting - that preying mantis is blending in to his surroundings LOL!

Thank you for sharing what you found, as you took a closer look in your garden. Awesome!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Ontario, Canada (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids
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Steven
Sep 2, 2011 11:30 AM CST
Thank you for a great article Christine! Another on plants that attract beneficials would be fantastic, I definitely need more "good bugs" around Thumbs up
Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
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JRsbugs
Sep 2, 2011 12:55 PM CST
Well done Christine! I was just searching for a shieldbug for Sandy, it's one which feeds on harmful pests.

My garden was full of aphids when I first moved here over 13 years ago, once I got to work making beds with a variety of plants the natural balance soon sorted itself. I know now if I see aphids I don't have to do a thing, the predators make quick work of them. I feed birds too, Sparrows are increasing and they are one of the best aphid eaters.

It looks like your garden has it's predators too Tee!
[Last edited by JRsbugs - Sep 2, 2011 12:42 PM (+)]
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Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member Birds Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Winter Sowing Herbs
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wildflowers
Sep 2, 2011 1:53 PM CST
Thank you, Steven - I will definitely do a follow-up about plants to attract these beneficials.

Janet, thank you for reading my article. I owe much to you, and learn so much from viewing your daily bug pictures. Thank you!

Aphids can be a problem for many of us, it's nice to hear of your success letting nature take care of them.

The birds are also a great benefit to the health of the garden - I didn't realize the sparrows were fond of aphids!

May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
Charter ATP Member Organic Gardener Garden Photography Bee Lover Dragonflies Cat Lover
Butterflies Birds Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Spiders!
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JRsbugs
Sep 2, 2011 5:52 PM CST
Christine, did you see the photos I have of tiny wasps carrying young aphids to their nests in logs? There's several of them, and they were coming and going bringing aphids at quite a pace. The wasps are only about 6mm or 1/4" long!

http://cubits.org/buglife/thread/view_post/751710/

I have a photo somewhere of a House Sparrow picking aphids off Lupins, but I have seen them on roses too. They have a very varied diet, I got a photo once of one going to the nest under the roof tiles with a variety of bugs, larvae and insects, they land on the guttering.
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
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LindaTX8
Sep 2, 2011 9:44 PM CST
Nice article! Not many insects around here this summer, good or bad.
I do have a bit of difficulty accepting the bugs that prey on butterfly caterpillars. And since the preying mantis killed one of our hummingbirds...well, that was pretty hard to take! But most of the beneficials are welcome here!
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member Birds Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Winter Sowing Herbs
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wildflowers
Sep 3, 2011 7:59 AM CST
Janet, how amazing to capture those little wasps carrying off the aphids - very interesting! I love watching the birds in the garden also!

Recently I was having bad thoughts about a robberfly that was hanging around the sunflowers, possibly looking for unsuspecting bees - about the time it landed on the walkway, a bird swooped down and snatched it up! LOL! It was a reminder that nature will take care of things!!

Linda, I remember that little hummingbird, it was so sad! As a matter of fact, I thought about it the other day ~ when I went to fill the hummingbird feeders, there was a praying mantis hanging upside down right next to one of the feeders! He was relocated!! Blinking
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Myriam
Ghent, Belgium (Zone 8a)
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bonitin
Sep 3, 2011 9:42 AM CST
Great article Christine! Smiling
It sure will add to more conscientiousness for others to think twice before using any pesticides! Nature does take care of itself given natural conditions!
Thank you! Smiling
Name: Brenda
Dolores, Colorado
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bsavage
Sep 3, 2011 9:44 AM CST
What a great article! Very informative, and the pictures really help in identifying the beneficials. Now, how do I get rid of earwigs and about a billion ants? (I know ants can be good, but our gardens are a bit overrun with them!).
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member Birds Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Winter Sowing Herbs
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wildflowers
Sep 4, 2011 7:18 AM CST
Hi Myriam, thank you!! Big Grin It's so true, I love seeing the bugs in the garden, it lets me know everything is going well with nature.

As Linda said, there really are less bugs of any kind in the garden this year, with this Texas heat-drought we're having.

Brenda, I remember calling the earwigs "Pincher bugs" LOL. Here is an interesting link about them:
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/pincher-bugs.html
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
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SongofJoy
Sep 4, 2011 8:26 AM CST
An update today ... I suppose this is what's known as hanging on by a thread. Glare


Thumb of 2011-09-04/SongofJoy/9430b1
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member Birds Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Winter Sowing Herbs
Critters Allowed Dog Lover Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Composter
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wildflowers
Sep 4, 2011 9:19 AM CST
Eeek! I think so! HA! Thank you for the update - very interesting!

I must admit that those tomato hornworms cause me to shudder! LOL I would be so lucky to see one in that condition this year! I've found more tomato horn worms than tomatoes!! Had to use the needle nose plyers to pry their little legs from the plant Rolling on the floor laughing it works well! and then the chickens are standing by for a little treat! Blinking

Looking to attract more beneficials next year myself!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Brenda
Dolores, Colorado
Charter ATP Member Cat Lover Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Art Hummingbirder
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bsavage
Sep 4, 2011 10:30 AM CST
Thanks for the link on earwigs, Christine. Thank goodness we don't have any in the house! That would freak me out.
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Salvias Herbs Bluebonnets Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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LindaTX8
Sep 4, 2011 11:29 AM CST
Poor caterpillar! Well, we don't usually see tomato hornworms here...very rare to see one. The other hornworms are here sometimes, but mostly just to eat tree leaves and not in great numbers of caterpillars, so not a big deal.
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
Name: Margaret
Near Kamloops, BC, Canada (Zone 3a)
Region: Canadian Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Tip Photographer Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member
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mcash70
Sep 4, 2011 2:47 PM CST
Great article Christine, I really enjoyed reading it. I do not use bug sprays, I love to see all of the different bugs and spiders in my garden.
Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Butterflies Garden Art
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Sheila_FW
Sep 4, 2011 6:07 PM CST
Informative article.....but I am with LindaTX. I would kill the caterpillar and all of the wasp eggs it is harboring. Farmers purchase and release them in mass on their crops, and they multiply. Some of those wasp will more than likely be killing our Monarchs and Swallowtails that we care about in the next few weeks by planting their eggs in those caterpillars. Because of the short life of the Monarch the parasite eats their insides. So when it makes it's chrysalis (if it lives that long), there is nothing there to become the beautiful butterfly. Shrug! Crying
Edited to add a link on the subject. http://www.butterflyfunfacts.com/chalcid-wasp-chalcidoidea.p...

Thumb of 2011-09-05/Sheila_FW/b98460
[Last edited by Sheila_FW - Sep 4, 2011 1:43 PM (+)]
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Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
Hi Everybody!! Let us talk native.
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Butterflies Garden Ideas: Master Level Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Birds Cat Lover Xeriscape
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frostweed
Sep 4, 2011 6:31 PM CST
I kill those too, no need to harbor too many butterfly predators.
Wildflowers are the Smiles of Nature.
Gardening with Texas Native Plants and Wildflowers.

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