Green lacewings are predators found in most
It’s a voracious feeder and can consume up to
200 aphids or other prey per week. It also eats mites and a wide variety of
soft-bodied insects, including insect eggs,
thrips, mealy bugs, immature whiteflies, and
Lacewings will also consume each other
if no other prey is available.
The importation of the predacious vedalia
beetle, a scale-feeding lady beetle species,
saved the citrus industry in California from
the cottony cushion scale.
The mealybug destroyer, another lady beetle
species, was introduced into California in 1928 and is now commercially
available for mealybug suppression.
In the Midwest several very common lady beetle
species are aphid predators, including the
twelvespotted lady beetle, the convergent lady
beetle, the sevenspotted lady beetle and the
twospotted lady beetle.
Adults of the twelvespotted lady beetle
are about 1/4 inch long and have pink
to light red colored wing covers with
six black spots on each wing.
Adults of the convergent lady beetle,
1/4 inch long, have orange wing covers, with
six small black spots on each. Behind the head is two converging white
lines, hence the name. Yellow eggs are in clusters of 10-20.
The sevenspotted lady beetle has red wing covers
with seven black spots and lays 15 – 70 yellow eggs on plants that are
infested with their aphid prey.
All spiders are general predators of insects and
provide natural control.
Some construct webs. Others hunt down their
Insects from egg to adult stage are prey. The
method determines the type and stage of insect eaten.
Spiders are generalist predators and do not
discriminate. They may eat the good guys, however, if there is an abundance
of any type insect, spiders can help to balance and stability to the insect
Spiders tend to have a single generation per
year, and do not rapidly increase their numbers.
Many broad spectrum insecticides directly kill
spider populations as well as beneficial insects.. Therefore, insecticides
should be used only when needed and the most selective materials possible
should be used.
Damsel bugs are slender, tan-colored
bugs that resemble small, assassin bugs.
They are a small family of generalist
predators commonly found in many gardens.
Damsel bugs feed on many types of insects -
aphids, moth eggs, and small caterpillars, including corn earworm, European
corn borer, imported cabbageworm and some armyworms.
prey may include leafhoppers (including beet and potato leafhoppers), small
sawfly larvae, mites, tarnished plant bug nymphs, and asparagus beetle and
Colorado potato beetle eggs and nymphs. Although they can survive for up to
two weeks without food, if no other prey is available they will turn to
Hover flies (or flower flies,) are common
important natural enemies of aphids and other
small, slow-moving insects. The adults
resemble bees or wasps, and are often seen
visiting flowers, hovering over the flowers
There are many different species that range in
size from less than 1/4 inch long to more than 3/4 inch long. Many have the
typical black and yellow stripes on the abdomen that give them a bee-like
appearance, but others are hairy with a long, thin abdomen.
They are attracted to weedy borders or mixed
garden plantings that are also infested with aphids. The adults need
flowers as nectar and pollen sources, especially Queen Anne's lace, wild
mustard, sweet alyssum, coriander, dill, and other small-flowered herbs.
Most assassin bugs are medium-sized to large
of crop pests, but the family does contain a few blood-
sucking species. Even the beneficial insect predators can
inflict a painful bite if handled carelessly, resulting in
inflammation that can persist for a few days.
Adult assassin bugs are usually 1/2 to 3/4"
long. Many species are brownish or blackish, but some species are brightly
colored. The elongated head is narrow with a distinct "neck"
behind the often reddish eyes. The long, curved mouth parts form a beak
which is carried beneath the body.with the tip fitting in a groove on the
underside of the body.
The female lays eggs in tight, upright clusters
on leaves or in the soil. Nymphs resemble miniature, wingless adults.
Most assassin bugs are generalist predators.They
sit in wait of prey and are most likely to attack small flying insects,
however they can subdue and kill medium-sized caterpillars and similar
In the garden they attack aphids, leafhoppers
and asparagus beetle eggs and larvae. They may feed on beneficial species
as well as pests. To preserve them, judicious pesticide use is beneficial.
Minute pirate bugs are common insect predators.
Both immature stages and adults feed on a variety
of small prey, including spider mites, insect eggs,
aphids, thrips, and small caterpillars.
They feed by sucking juices from their prey
through a sharp needle-like beak.
Adults are very small (1/8" long). Females
lay tiny eggs within plant tissues where they are not easily seen. These
hatch into nymphs, the immature feeding stage. Nymphs are small, wingless
insects, yellow-orange to brown in color, teardrop-shaped and fast moving.
Several generations may occur during a growing season.
Pirate Bugs may even bite humans, but the bite
only temporarily irritating.
They feed on pollen and plant juices when prey
not available and therefore are very susceptible to insecticides.
Ground beetles are common important predators
vary in size from a less than 1/4" to over 1-1/2" long. They
are usually dark brown or black, shiny, and somewhat
flattened, with slender legs for running. A few are
an iridescent blue or green. They
They are commonly found under leaves or debris,
in cracks in the soil, or running along the ground. Some species emit a
strong smelling irritant when handled. Many are nocturnal and some are
attracted to lights at night.
The adults are fierce predators that chew up
their prey with their large, sharp mouthparts. Caterpillars, grubs and
adults of other beetles, fly maggots and pupae, earthworms, and other small
soil dwellers are common prey.
They can consume their body weight in food
daily. Eggs are deposited either on objects above ground or in cavities
made in the soil.
Adult rove beetles are generally less than 3/4
inch long. They are easily recognized by their slender, usually black or
brown body, shortened front wings (elytra) that may look like pads on the
abdomen, and behavior of curling the tip of the abdomen upwards when
disturbed or running. Adults are usually strong fliers. The mobile larvae
of non-parasitic rove beetles may be distinctly segmented
Predaceous rove beetles, depending on the
species, may consume root maggot eggs and larvae, mites, small soil
insects, insect eggs, or small insects on foliage. Some feed on the eggs
and maggots of filth flies. Several occur in agricultural soils where they
probably feed on a variety of types of prey. A few species can be found in
vegetation where they feed on many types of small insects and mites.
Combine 1 tablespoon of a dishwashing liquid
with 1 cup of vegetable oil to make a concentrate.
When ready to apply, add 1 tablespoon
concentrate to 1 cup of water and spray it on the plants.
It's important to experiment with the solution
first. You may decide to dilute the concentration because you can easily
burn the plants.
Note: On white flies the oil will suffocate the
flies and their eggs. The soap will help to break down the waxy covering on
their bodies making them more susceptible to disease and their natural
Use pesticides only when the bad bugs are out of
Always follow the directions. Stronger
applications are NOT good.
Spraying in the evening will avoid harming many
good bugs, especially bees.
Remember, good guys feed on pollen and plant
juices when prey are not available. Foliar or systemic applications can
greatly reduce Good Guy numbers. Even soil applied systemic insecticides
may reduce their numbers because of their habit of sucking plant juices.
Diversified cropping and use of microbial
insecticides, e.g., products containing Bacillus thuringiensis are all
practical recommendations to maximize the natural biological control.
Occasional pests on cole crops, potatoes,
corn and spinach with enlarged hind legs
Feeding causes a "shothole" appearance
to the plants.
Heavy attack results in wilted or stunted
plants. Transplants withstand better than seed starts.
Adult eat stems and foliage.
Control: Early season trap crop of cole or
radish. Adults feed on earliest and tallest plants. Use insecticide to kill
pests on trap crops or collect and destroy plants. (Have another trap to