Beneficial Insects

Important Groups

There are more than just these four groups of beneficial insects present, but they represent a selection some readers may have been unfamiliar with. Each one of these groups plays in important role in IPM planning and management for the modern farmer, or the average home and garden enthusiast. Our hope is that by providing you a brief overview of each, and the role they play in proper management, you can better understand and implement effective management strategies.

 

Fly Predators

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Fly Predators is a common reference for a mixture of predatory insects used in the prevention of various livestock flies. They come in a mixture of eggs that are spread around problem areas (typically this means manure piles, or any rotting organic matter) in advance of the emergence of the adult flies. By doing this spreading before the flies have a chance to develop, the predator insects have a chance to parasitize the eggs of the problem flies, killing them well before they become a problem. They are re-applied over the course of a season, which varies based on your location and local temperature variance. Consult with an expert (our resources page) or contact us directly for more specific information based on your specific problem species and for questions about application time periods.

 

Lacewings

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Lacewings, particularly green lacewings,  are a group of predatory insects that provides general control of several problematic insect groups. While the adults feed on nectar, pollen, and honeydew, the larvae are excellent predators of numerous populations of soft-bodied pests. Mealybugs, psyllids, thrips, mites, whiteflies, aphids, small caterpillars, leafhoppers, and insect eggs are all victims of the appetites of green lacewing larvae.

They are most effective, and cost effective, when used in a preventative manner, so anyone considering integrating them into a pest management strategy should be distributing their eggs before pest populations become problematic. Barring a preventative application, it is also possible to use the adults to establish a population if a field or garden is lacking their presence. 

 

In order to best encourage a healthy population of green lacewing, it is advisable to consider the use of cover crops in a field to make sure that once a population is established, it has a conducive environment to live in. This will provide the best long term control. 

 

Nematodes

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Nematodes are often overlooked in non-commercial applications, and are important predators that will attack numerous ground dwelling pests. They are most effective for control of various caterpillars and grubs. Their are varying degrees of specificity based on which nematode species is applied and the pest the user is attempting to control. Therefore it is important to know ahead of time what pest you wish to control, so that an appropriate nematode species can be selected and applied.

In order for nematodes to be effective, some environmental conditions must be met. Soil must be above sixty degrees Fahrenheit  and the soil needs to be irrigated in a controlled manner prior to and post-application; nematodes require moist soil in order to move about effectively.

 

For questions about application timing, and species selection, contact us directly or consult one of our listed resources.   

 

Trichogramma

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Trichogramma are an underutilized and highly effective beneficial, providing good control of a wide variety of pests. This genus of parasitic wasps contains approximately 650 individual species. They can be difficult to identify due to their minuscule size (1mm or less). Trichogramma target a broad range of eggs of hundreds of different species of bad insects. Their target prey is primarily moths, butterflies, and sawflies, but some of their species target the eggs of beetles, flies, true bugs, other wasp species, and lacewings. Proper species selection will provide better control of your target pest population.

It can be difficult to determine if trichogramma parasitization is occurring without looking closely at your pest populations. This is due to their size, making them difficult to observe. In order to make sure they are doing their job, it is necessary to observe the eggs of a given pest population, look for eggs that are turning black. This happens due to the method of parasitization occurring, as an adult wasp will inject an egg into the egg of its prey, where the larvae will develop while consuming the host embryo.

For questions or more information, contact us directly or consult one of our listed resources.