1) Yellow jackets
2.) Predatory mites
Once you release these predators, they immediately begin feeding on pest mites, which are often abundant underneath plant leaves. The females start laying eggs which will hatch in just a few days. Their young feeds on pest eggs as the cycle continues. Within two to three weeks your infestation is usually under control.
And mites are so tiny that they can get into places that pesticide sprays can’t. They love pollen and humidity making a greenhouse environment ideal. For outdoor use, release your predatory mites on azaleas, fruit trees and anywhere in your vegetable garden.
For indoor plants, consider spraying an insecticidal soap first, prior to releasing any predatory mites. Try getting your own mites by mail-order, ordering on-line, or from an agricultural college.
3.) Ground beetles
In fact, ground beetles hunt more than 50 types of pests! And just one beetle larva can eat more than 50 caterpillars, a huge problem in my garden.
Caterpillars nearly destroyed my tomato crop last year. Attract these good guys by providing lots of perennial groundcovers, stones, or logs where they can comfortably hide underneath. They also love decaying plant matter to lay their eggs in, so keep your garden mulched, all year long. Mulch is especially important if you don’t grow perennials next to your vegetables to create a stable habitat.
4.) Parasitic wasps
So if you’re an organic gardener who wants to keep the bad bugs at bay, you’ll want to bring in the parasitic wasps. Ways to make them happy are shallow birdbaths or small pans of water, lots of plant variety to provide that nectar and pollen, and preferred food sources such as alyssum, cilantro, herbs from the dill family, daisies and asters.
Some of the pests you can count on them for are cutworms, corn earworms, white grubs, caterpillars, cabbage worms, tomato hornworms, army worms, webworms, and corn borers. See, these are the good guys!
Lacewing larvae kind of look like a tiny alligator. With their tiny pincers they attack their prey, injecting a paralyzing venom then drawing out the body fluids of its victim. Hmmm. I hope you weren’t eating breakfast or even your snack. So during this 2-3 week larvae stage they will devour up to 200 victims a week. As the cycle continues, they pupate by spinning a cocoon with silken thread and about five days later the adult emerges.
As a general rule, you’ll want about 1,000 eggs per 2,500 square feet. Since you only have about 2-3 weeks of vigorous feeding, a second release might be required. You can always order online from many reputable “bug” companies or even Amazon as silly as that sounds!
With their voracious appetites, they can slash an infestation and get your garden under control in no time. Easy to order online, but also easy to attract on your own with any member of the parsley family. Go with carrots, dill, fennel, yarrow and of course…parsley if you want to win them over. A chemical-free yard with plenty of mulch coupled with organic gardening practices is always a win-win situation.
So if you struggle with aphids, armyworms, leafhoppers, flea-hoppers, leafminers, spider mites, caterpillars, thrips, cucumber beetles, grasshoppers, scarabs, flies and budworms, you’ll want to attract those spiders.
They love straw mulches and ground covers with perennials. Companion planting of flowers among your veggies will also draw them in. Maybe you’ll even see a spider web hung between your stalks of corn or among your bean poles, both a good sign!
8.) Praying mantises
The drawback (okay, it’s a huge drawback) is that they do eat other beneficial insects. But hey, we decided to include them in this post anyhow because we can’t resist them. And those motionless front legs that give off the impression they are praying?…they are actually using those to hold their prey.
9.) Hover flies
Secret code: insect
Where there are high larvae populations, they may even control 70%-100% of an aphid population. Aphids cause millions of dollars in damage to crops worldwide.
In particular, you’ll want these guys around in the early spring, before the other beneficial insects are yet active to keep away the scale insects, mealybugs, caterpillars and thrips. Added bonus? They also pollinate strawberries and raspberries and help to produce larger fruits and higher yields. One last fun fact: they can fly backwards!
How many of these bugs have you seen in your garden?