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Role of Beneficial Insects for Maximum Biomass Production and Environmental Protection

Role of Beneficial Insects for Maximum Biomass Production and Environmental Protection

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Is there any possible way to produce maximum biomass without using harmful chemicals? What is the role of beneficial insects to overcome insect pests? What is the maximum working potential of beneficial insects against garden pests? Which species of beneficial insects are good to protect growing spaces against insect pests? How to Attract and Maintain A Good Population of Beneficial Insects in the Growing Spaces?

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GRDC benificial insect guide can come in handy, I have the southern and western regions part of it, have a look.

click here beneficial insects southernwestern regions the back pocket guide grdc5

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How to Attract and Maintain A Good Population of Beneficial Insects in the Growing Spaces

Beneficial insects require shelter, food, and water for their survival as they are also living creatures and any limitation may cause direct killing of the entire community. Provision of basic life necessities is essentially helpful to maintain a good number of beneficial insects in the gardens.

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Maintenance of good diversity of plants is essentially helpful to attract different species of beneficial insects. Many beneficial gardens enter the garden before the emergence or presence of pests and therefore their populations must be sustained by providing safe and contaminant-free alternative food sources.

Early blooming plants should be allowed to bloom to attract beneficial insects in the growing spaces. Later, on these insects will be attracted to the other plants and will perform the beneficial functions. The use of synthetic chemicals must be avoided to avoid the negative effects on beneficial insects.

Water can be provided in the shallow saucers and must be refilled each day. Moreover, growers can also use small ponds, birds’ bath, and emitters to add beauty and to provide water to the beneficial creatures.

Flowering plants must be grown in the gardens, lawns, and landscapes to provide pollen and nectar to the beneficial insects. Plantation of native grasses, trees, native wildflowers, shrubs, and Forbes is essentially helpful to sustain a good population of beneficial creatures. The plants which attract beneficial insects to the gardens includes roses, goldenrod, California poppy, Oregon grape, gaillardia, aster, Kinnikinnick, heuchera, hummingbird mint, mint, parsley, strawberries, raspberries, rudbeckia, Japanese silver bell tree, lilac, fruit trees, butterfly bush, penstemons, snapdragons, oriental lilies, milkweeds, nemesia, Muscari, yarrow, thyme, dill, decorative alliums, echinacea, scabiosa, lobelia, lavender, fuchsia, and veronica. These planting species must be compatible with local climatic conditions and agro-ecological zones.

Results of various scientific studies have shown that native plant species are especially helpful to support a good number and activities of beneficial insects. Insectary strips, cover crops, beetle banks, and hedgerows are essentially helpful to maintain beneficial insects in the lawns and gardens. Maintenance of blooming times throughout the growing seasons and incorporation of different types of flowers is especially helpful to accommodate different types of beneficial insects.

Provision of undisturbed habitat in the gardening sites and maintenance of leaflitter, shelter, and nests is essentially helpful to maintain a required number of gardening insects. The utilization of organic gardening practices helps to reduce the need for synthetic chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and weedicides. A proper monitoring of pests and insects in the garden is helpful to reduce the use of insecticides for safer contribution to the gardening ecosystems.

Thrips and Aphid Control

A good and well-maintained irrigation is helpful to avoid the use of excessive nitrogenous fertilizers. This, in turn, is especially helpful to maintain a population of thrips in the garden. A good spraying of water on growing vegetation is also helpful to knock off aphids and invites hummingbirds, leafcutter bee larva, lacewings, larva, and ladybugs. This step is essentially helpful to control the pest population in the garden and supports sustainable plant growth and development.

Improved Pest Tolerance

Gardeners should always allow some pets in the growing spaces to feed the beneficial insects in the gardens, lawns, and landscapes. The use of synthetic chemicals must be avoided to cut down the pest population. Another management practice is to use the specific plants that are essentially good to repel the harmful pests.

Provision of Plants for Entire Life Cycle of Useful Insects

Useful insects need overwintering sites, feeding sources, nesting sites, water, pollen, and nectar for their survival and activities. All these requirements can never be provided by one plant species and therefore growers must be focused to plant different species in the growing species. Some of the good plants include lavender, parsley, Mexican sunflower, fennel, dill, cosmos, lovage, cilantro, chervil, and calendula.

Hand Weeding and Mulching

Mulching practices and hand weeding is especially helpful to improve the physical condition of soil and regulates the good nutritional profile and moisture contents in the soil. Mulching is also helpful to reduce the problem of weed emergence and mulching up to a layer of about 3 inches deep is proven to be significantly helpful minimize the problem of weeds.

Grass clippings: The addition of these materials is helpful to add good organic matter to the soil and helps to improve the physical, biological, and chemical conditions of the soil. These grass clippings should not be treated with any synthetic chemicals to avoid negative effects on beneficial insects. Their addition in the form of thick layers must be avoided to reduce the effects of further decaying and mold growth.

Leaf Mulch: Leaves are rich sources of nutrients and their decomposition helps to return macro and micronutrients to the soil. These leaves must be shred before addition to the soil so that their matting and compaction can be avoided. Moreover, their compaction also causes oxygen depletion in the rhizosphere and soil horizons.

Hulls of Cocoa Beans: These hulls produce a good smell, but they should be replaced each year due to their rapid rate of decomposition. Coffee beans should not be used if owners have dog pets as these are not safe and good for the dogs.

Bark: Natural and contaminant-free bark causes insulation of roots and helps to retain water along with improving soil fertility status. In this way, it is essentially helpful to improve living conditions for the beneficial plants and helps to control the population of insect pests.

Compost: Compost mulching provides additional benefits of adding essential nutrients to the soil. Breakdown of mulching layers helps to improve the activities of microorganisms and significantly improves the nutritional status and soil structure.

Straw Mulching: Straw of cereal grains is helpful to avoid unnecessary seeds. This type of mulching is essentially helpful to conserve and regulate soil moisture and temperature. The addition of certified and weeds free mulching protects the garden from the synthetic chemicals and thus supports the populations of beneficial insects.

Inorganic Mulching to Support Beneficial Insects

Growers can use inorganic material for soil mulching as it also helps to maintain soil moisture and to regulate soil temperature. This mulching is especially helpful to minimize the growth of weeds and therefore the need for synthetic chemicals is greatly reduced thus a friendly environment is created for beneficial insects.

Purchasing Beneficial Insects

Some insect parasitoids and predators can be added to the gardens and growing spaces by purchasing them. Although, insects will never be bounded to a specific place and they may be flying to the neighborhood as well. Therefore, gardeners can purchase beneficial insects by getting funding and collaboration from neighbors as it will be helpful for the whole community.

Gardeners should be extremely careful to maintain the populations of these insects as their purchase and release is never enough to get the desired results. Instead, they have to manage things by providing safe, and contaminant-free food, water, and habitat. Some of the beneficial insects also requires specific humidity and temperature conditions for their survival and working.

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Beneficial Insects for Gardening

Not all types of insect species in the garden are pests but some of them are greatly helpful to reduce harmful insects and thus conserve the growth and development of the plants. Beneficial insects are natural creatures to improve ecosystem functioning and to provide pollinating services in the gardens, cultivated areas, and randomly growing vegetations. These insects are essentially helpful to manage the insect pests in the garden and significantly reduces their population below economic threshold levels.

Hoverflies

You can easily identify these insects as have black and yellow coloring as that of wasp and are confused as wasps due to this reason. Many plants are especially good to attract hoverflies such as marigold, potentilla, lemon balm, poached eggplants, mallow, cosmos, dill, alyssum, and yarrow. Hoverflies can fly to an area of about 45 km in an hour. The adults of hoverflies do feed on pollen and nectar. Their larvae are excellent predators of garden aphids and other pests.

Hoverflies are not only helping to control garden pests but also offer good pollination services for flowering and fruit production. The addition of these insects to the garden is an excellent approach to produce safe, high-quality, and nutritionally rich food on a sustainable basis. This practice significantly helps to reduce the demand for synthetic chemicals and thus saves a good amount to the growers.

Lady Birds

Ladybirds exclusively feed on red spider mites and aphids and therefore are categorized as carnivores. Ladybirds are essentially important for organic garden. These insects lay numerous eggs in the colonies of pests and specifically aphids. Each insect after hatching can eat 5000 aphids and will greatly reduce their population.

Ladybirds can only live for about three years and it releases reflex blood or toxic, yellow-colored substances. These insects have distinctive orange or red-colored shell and a variable number of spots ranging between 2-18. Plants that attract the ladybirds include tansy, cinquefoil, fennel, penstemon, alyssum, carpet bugleweed, and yarrow.

Soldier Beetles

These beetles are significantly important predators of aphids, caterpillars, Colorado potato beetles, and Mexican bean beetles. These beetles have good attraction for the plants having compound blossoms.

Solitary Bees

These bees are not living in colonies like bumblebees and honeybees. Hundreds of species of solitary bees have been identified across the globe and their beneficial effects for gardening have also been proven by various scientific studies. These bees make their nests in the bored holes and hollow reeds of woods.

Some of these bees may look like honeybees but they are not provided with the pollen legs. Females of these insects dig their nests and stock it pollens and nectar and then seal it. In this way, young insects can easily fend for themselves. While some bees make their nests in the ground and some excavate in the aerial nests such as in the stems of brambles. Another group of these bees makes their nests in the empty shells of snails and seal their entrance by using saliva and chewed leaves. All species of solitary bees are excellent pollinators, and their population must be maintained in the gardens to ensure safe and nutritionally rich food production.

Ground Beetles

Ground beetles are categorized as voracious beetles and they love snails and slugs. These beetles offer good control of insect pests by eating them. Their eating mechanism consists of vomiting on the pests and wait for the action of digestive enzymes. These enzymes convert their food to the liquid and in this way, the food can be easily consumed by the ground beetles.

Lacewings

Lacewings are common yet beautiful insects and can be easily recognized due to the presence of transparent and lace-like wings. These wings are twice the length of the abdomen. Both the larva and adults of lacewings are voracious consumers of insect eggs and aphids.

Their larva is also provided with the specialized mouthparts and larger jaws that can easily interlock to make pincers. Lacewings impale on the pincers and sucks out the body contents of prey by using their hollow food channels that are specifically running in between the jaws.

Both males and females of lacewings produces less frequency sounds by vibrations of their abdomens. Plants that naturally attracts the lacewings include dandelion, fennel, cosmos, coriander, angelica, dill, ad yarrow.

Moths and Butterflies

Thousands of species of moths and butterflies have been identified in different parts of the globe. Their larva can be regarded as pests in the gardening and cultivating sites, but their adults are excellent and beautiful pollinators. Most of the moths are active at night while and prefer to hold their wings flat. Whereas some moths have feathery or hair-like antennae.

Butterflies extract flowers nectar by using their tongues and helps in pollination. Both butterflies and moths are essentially important elements in the food chain because they prey on insectivores’ animals, bats, and birds. Plants that attract moths and butterflies include night-scented stocks, sweet rocket, honeysuckle, evening primrose, and jasmine.

Parasitic Wasps

These parasites do not have stinging characteristics and usually lay their eggs in or on other insects. They have a gruesome lifecycle and parasitoid larva after hatching from egg eats the host. In this way, parasitic wasps play an important role to kill garden pests. Plants that attract parasitic wasps include marigold, cinquefoil, alyssum, lobelia, cosmos, mallow, dill, and yarrow.

Trichogramma Wasps

The insects of these species lay their eggs specifically in the pest’s eggs and helps to control their populations. These flies look similar to that of house flies, but these are active parasitized of various insects such as grasshoppers, corn borers, green stinkbugs, squash bugs, Japanese beetles, moths, caterpillars, and Mexican bean beetles.

Braconid Wasps

These insects lay eggs on the backsides of caterpillars, and tomato hornworms and makes white cocoons on the backside of caterpillars. The parasitized caterpillars should never be killed as they are essentially beneficial to control different pests.

Robber Flies

Robber flies are provided with extra long legs and are also regarded as bug-eating machines. These flies may have intimidating looks but they do not cause any harm or attack to human beings. These insects must be maintained in the gardens to naturally kill various pests.

Assassin Bugs

These bugs have mixed looks of squash bug and praying mantis and have sharp mouthparts and can easily prey on different types of gardening pests. The adult form of these insects can be confused with squash bugs so gardeners should carefully characterize these bugs to get maximum benefit from these insects.

Spiders

Spiders are essentially beneficial controlling agents for pests, but they are often overlooked due to less knowledge and awareness about their identification, and beneficial roles. These insects are attracted to different prey by the specific movements and can eat various insects alive. Wolf spiders and jumping spiders are especially good to maintain and control the pest population in the gardens, landscapes, and growing spaces.

Non-Insect Beneficial Organisms

Many non-insect creatures are essentially helpful to control pests and to protect growing plants and vegetation.

Snakes: These animals are essentially good to eat pests and rodents and garter snakes are especially good to control slugs. They need a good space to hide and to get water. The use of chemicals must be avoided to maintain a good habitat for snakes.

Toads/Frogs: These are voracious eaters and can easily eat about 10,000 insect pests in the growing spaces. The presence of toads and frogs is an indicator of the balanced and maintained ecosystem in the garden and helps to boost plant growth and development.

Hummingbirds and Birds: These birds can eat a good number of insects and supports various beneficial insects in the growing spaces.

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Is there any possible way to produce maximum biomass without using harmful chemicals?

The truth is that yes, organic can feed the world! Organic can compete with conventional yields and outperform conventional in adverse weather. Small farmers using organic methods have huge potential to expand global food production.

By abstaining from most toxic synthetic inputs, organic farmers protect the environment and prioritize soil health, wildlife habitat, clean and air water, and nutrient-dense foods. Their emphasis is typically less on maximizing crop yields and more on creating healthy, resilient ecosystems.

There is huge potential in small farmers in the developing world for increasing food production and global food security by growing diverse and nutrient-dense foods. 40% of the world’s current crop production comes from these small farmers, and they are poised to make a big difference.

Given simple tools like viable seed and better crop varieties, these farmers can dramatically increase their productivity. Pair those tools with basic infrastructure and weather information to help time planting and harvest, and these small farmers could triple their yields.

All of these methods are organic and sustainable, and they don’t trap farmers in a cycle of binding contracts with chemical and seed companies like Bayer (Monsanto).

Instead, these practical changes can regenerate resources while dramatically increasing yields in many parts of the world.

The small-scale farmer is also nearly guaranteed to grow and raise diverse crops and livestock, enhancing biodiversity, a crucial marker of healthy ecosystems. They also are more likely to grow nutrient-dense varieties that enhance human health instead of corn or soy for animal feed.

The answer isn’t one or the other—large-scale farms or small. Demand for corn and soy will grow as more parts of the world demand animal products and biofuels integrate into more of our technology. It is possible to farm both sustainably—and we must.

What is the role of beneficial insects to overcome insect pests?

Beneficial insects can be useful in integrated pest management of row crops and gardens. They are a form of biological control in that their activity reduces the activity of certain pest species. For many pest insects, the most important check on their populations is the activity of beneficial insects. If populations of beneficial insects are allowed to increase throughout the growing season, they can reduce pest populations of moths, aphids, mites and bugs by 20 to 40 percent.

Some insects, such as honeybees and butterflies, are considered beneficial because of the important role they play in plant pollination. The insects described in this guide are considered beneficial because they feed on other insects (Table 1). They are either predators or parasites. Predators actively hunt and feed on other insects. Many predatory beneficial insects are generalists that feed on many types of prey. The parasites are usually flying wasps or flies that lay their eggs on or in the body of certain kinds of insects. The young feed on and often destroy their hosts.

Noninsect predators are also beneficial in row crops and gardens. Examples include spiders and predatory mites, which are also described in this guide. Collectively, pollinating insects, predatory and parasitic insects, and noninsect predators that help control pests are commonly referred to simply as "beneficials."

What is the maximum working potential of beneficial insects against garden pests?

Beneficial insects can be useful in integrated pest management of row crops and gardens. They are a form of biological control in that their activity reduces the activity of certain pest species. For many pest insects, the most important check on their populations is the activity of beneficial insects. If populations of beneficial insects are allowed to increase throughout the growing season, they can reduce pest populations of moths, aphids, mites and bugs by 20 to 40 percent.

Which species of beneficial insects are good to protect growing spaces against insect pests?

Ground beetles

Adult ground beetles have black or dark metallic coloring (Figure 1). Most adult beetles are nocturnal; they prowl the soil and its surface at night in search of food. Ground beetles feed on soil-dwelling and aboveground pests. The larvae are brown or black and have a wormlike shape, but they are rarely seen because they remain underground.

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Figure 1 Ground beetle.

Lady beetles or ladybugs

There are many different species of lady beetles, but most are typically round or oval shaped with bold patterns and bright colors with spots (Figure 2). Lady beetle larvae have an elongated, dark-colored body with orange and yellow markings (Figure 2. Adult and larval lady beetles feed on aphids; mealybugs; soft-bodied insects, such as caterpillars; and spider mites.

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Figure 2 Lady beetle adult.

Soldier beetles or leather-winged beetles

Adult soldier beetles are elongated with a red, orange or yellow head and abdomen, and black, gray or brown soft wing covers (Figure 3). Larvae are dark, elongated and flattened. The larvae are soil dwellers that feed on insect eggs, aphids, small caterpillars, root maggots, rootworm larvae and other soft-bodied insects. Adult beetles feed on aphids; beetle larvae, including cucumber beetles; caterpillars; and grasshopper eggs.

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Figure 3 Soldier beetle. (Phil Sloderbeck, Kansas State University, Bugwood.org)

Minute pirate bugs or flower bugs

Adult pirate bugs or flower bugs are very small and have a triangular head and a long, oval-shaped body (Figure 4). They are black or purplish and have white wing patches. Nymphs are yellow or reddish-brown and pear-shaped. They feed on small caterpillars, leafhopper nymphs, spider mites, thrips, aphids and the eggs of many other insects.

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Figure 4 Minute pirate bug feeding on aphid.

Bigeyed bugs

Bigeyed bugs are long, oval and somewhat flat, and range in color from black and white to tan (Figure 5). Like the name implies, these bugs have prominent bulging eyes and a wider head than other bugs. They feed on aphids, caterpillars, leafhoppers, spider mites and tarnished plant bugs.

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Figure 5 Bigeyed bug feeding on aphid. (Jack Dykinga, USDA)

Damsel bugs

Damsel bugs are slender yellowish-brown bugs with an elongated head and long antennae (Figure 6). They feed on aphids, small caterpillars, leafhoppers, plant bugs, thrips and treehoppers.

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Figure 6 Damsel bug. (Jim Kalisch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Department of Entomology)

Predatory stink bugs

Predatory stink bugs are also known as spined soldier bugs. Adults are pale brown to tan. Their forewings have membranous tips that overlap, and a distinct dark line is visible where the wings overlap (Figure 7). Young nymphs are red and black, whereas older nymphs are marked with red, black, yellow-orange and cream patches. These bugs feed on fall armyworms, beet armyworms, corn earworms, European corn borers, diamondback moths, cabbage loopers, imported cabbageworms, Colorado potato beetles, Mexican bean beetles and hairless caterpillars.

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Figure 7 Damsel bug. (Jim Kalisch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Department of Entomology)

Ambush bugs

Ambush bugs have a stout body and thickened, mantid-like front legs (Figure 8). Their coloring ranges from black to brown to yellow to green. They prey on bees, flies and wasps.

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Figure 8 Ambush bug. (Kansas Department of Agriculture Archive, Bugwood.org)

Assassin bugs

Adult assassin bugs are black, red or brown and have a long narrow head with round beady eyes. They are relatively large insects with a long pair of front legs. Some species of assassin bugs can inflict a painful bite if mishandled. Assassin bugs prey on aphids, leafhoppers, small caterpillars, flies, and beetle eggs and larvae. One of the most common assassin bugs in Missouri is the wheel bug (Figure 9).

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Figure 9 Wheel bug.

How to Attract and Maintain A Good Population of Beneficial Insects in the Growing Spaces?

It is also important to have as much diversity as possible in your plantings. A mix of trees and shrubs, turfgrass (yes, low maintenance turf is an important habitat for some beneficials!), and annual and perennial flowers is best. Permanent plantings such as trees, shrubs and turf provide a place for beneficial insects to overwinter. The adults of many beneficials feed primarily on pollen and nectar, so it is important to have something in bloom from early spring until late fall.

Some of the best flower families for attracting beneficials

Carrot Family (Apiaceae)

plants in the carrot family are especially attractive to small parasitic wasps and flies. Interplant them in your vegetable garden and flower beds. Plants in this family include: caraway (Carum carvi); coriander/cilantro (Coriandrum sativum); dill (Anethum graveolens); fennel (Foeniculum vulgare); Bishop's flower (Ammi majus); Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota); and toothpick ammi (Ammi visnaga).

Aster Family (Asteraceae)

attractive to larger predators such as lady beetles and soldier beetles. Incorporate into the vegetable garden and flower beds. Plants in this family include: blanketflower (Gaillardia spp.); coneflower (Echinacea spp.); coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.); cosmos (Cosmos spp.); golden marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria); goldenrod (Solidago spp.); signet marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia); sunflower (Helianthus spp.); tansy (Tanacetum vulgare); and yarrow (Achillea spp.).

Legumes (Fabaceae)

generally grown as cover crops and attractive to many beneficials. Plants in this family include: alfalfa (Medicago sativa); fava bean (Vicia fava); hairy vetch (Vicia villosa); and sweet clover (Melilotus spp.).

Mustard Family (Brassicaceae)

attractive to beneficials that are parasites and predators of the insect pests of the mustard family (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, mustard greens). Be sure to plant these away from the garden rather than in the garden since these plants attract pests as well as beneficials. Some are common weeds, such as yellow rocket and wild mustard. Plants in this family include: basket-of-gold alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis); mustards (Brassica spp.); sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima); yellow rocket (Barbarea vulgaris); and wild mustard (Brassica kaber).

Verbena Family (Verbenaceae)

attractive to a variety of beneficial insects. Many plants in this family are favorite garden flowers. They include: lantana (Lantana camera); Buenos Aires verbena (Verbena bonariensis); hybrid verbena (Verbena x hybrida); and lilac vervain (Verbena rigida).

Beneficial insects also need a source of water. Shallow containers such as ceramic pot saucers with pebbles for the beneficials to rest on are best.

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Role of Beneficial Insects for Maximum Biomass Production and Environmental Protection

Role of Beneficial Insects for Maximum Biomass Production and Environmental Protection

bounty icon
$80
Multiple winner share bounty
Asked  a year ago
Viewed  0 times

Is there any possible way to produce maximum biomass without using harmful chemicals? What is the role of beneficial insects to overcome insect pests? What is the maximum working potential of beneficial insects against garden pests? Which species of beneficial insects are good to protect growing spaces against insect pests? How to Attract and Maintain A Good Population of Beneficial Insects in the Growing Spaces?

  • add comment
avatar

GRDC benificial insect guide can come in handy, I have the southern and western regions part of it, have a look.

click here beneficial insects southernwestern regions the back pocket guide grdc5

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  • 0
avatar

How to Attract and Maintain A Good Population of Beneficial Insects in the Growing Spaces

Beneficial insects require shelter, food, and water for their survival as they are also living creatures and any limitation may cause direct killing of the entire community. Provision of basic life necessities is essentially helpful to maintain a good number of beneficial insects in the gardens.

Image for question

Maintenance of good diversity of plants is essentially helpful to attract different species of beneficial insects. Many beneficial gardens enter the garden before the emergence or presence of pests and therefore their populations must be sustained by providing safe and contaminant-free alternative food sources.

Early blooming plants should be allowed to bloom to attract beneficial insects in the growing spaces. Later, on these insects will be attracted to the other plants and will perform the beneficial functions. The use of synthetic chemicals must be avoided to avoid the negative effects on beneficial insects.

Water can be provided in the shallow saucers and must be refilled each day. Moreover, growers can also use small ponds, birds’ bath, and emitters to add beauty and to provide water to the beneficial creatures.

Flowering plants must be grown in the gardens, lawns, and landscapes to provide pollen and nectar to the beneficial insects. Plantation of native grasses, trees, native wildflowers, shrubs, and Forbes is essentially helpful to sustain a good population of beneficial creatures. The plants which attract beneficial insects to the gardens includes roses, goldenrod, California poppy, Oregon grape, gaillardia, aster, Kinnikinnick, heuchera, hummingbird mint, mint, parsley, strawberries, raspberries, rudbeckia, Japanese silver bell tree, lilac, fruit trees, butterfly bush, penstemons, snapdragons, oriental lilies, milkweeds, nemesia, Muscari, yarrow, thyme, dill, decorative alliums, echinacea, scabiosa, lobelia, lavender, fuchsia, and veronica. These planting species must be compatible with local climatic conditions and agro-ecological zones.

Results of various scientific studies have shown that native plant species are especially helpful to support a good number and activities of beneficial insects. Insectary strips, cover crops, beetle banks, and hedgerows are essentially helpful to maintain beneficial insects in the lawns and gardens. Maintenance of blooming times throughout the growing seasons and incorporation of different types of flowers is especially helpful to accommodate different types of beneficial insects.

Provision of undisturbed habitat in the gardening sites and maintenance of leaflitter, shelter, and nests is essentially helpful to maintain a required number of gardening insects. The utilization of organic gardening practices helps to reduce the need for synthetic chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and weedicides. A proper monitoring of pests and insects in the garden is helpful to reduce the use of insecticides for safer contribution to the gardening ecosystems.

Thrips and Aphid Control

A good and well-maintained irrigation is helpful to avoid the use of excessive nitrogenous fertilizers. This, in turn, is especially helpful to maintain a population of thrips in the garden. A good spraying of water on growing vegetation is also helpful to knock off aphids and invites hummingbirds, leafcutter bee larva, lacewings, larva, and ladybugs. This step is essentially helpful to control the pest population in the garden and supports sustainable plant growth and development.

Improved Pest Tolerance

Gardeners should always allow some pets in the growing spaces to feed the beneficial insects in the gardens, lawns, and landscapes. The use of synthetic chemicals must be avoided to cut down the pest population. Another management practice is to use the specific plants that are essentially good to repel the harmful pests.

Provision of Plants for Entire Life Cycle of Useful Insects

Useful insects need overwintering sites, feeding sources, nesting sites, water, pollen, and nectar for their survival and activities. All these requirements can never be provided by one plant species and therefore growers must be focused to plant different species in the growing species. Some of the good plants include lavender, parsley, Mexican sunflower, fennel, dill, cosmos, lovage, cilantro, chervil, and calendula.

Hand Weeding and Mulching

Mulching practices and hand weeding is especially helpful to improve the physical condition of soil and regulates the good nutritional profile and moisture contents in the soil. Mulching is also helpful to reduce the problem of weed emergence and mulching up to a layer of about 3 inches deep is proven to be significantly helpful minimize the problem of weeds.

Grass clippings: The addition of these materials is helpful to add good organic matter to the soil and helps to improve the physical, biological, and chemical conditions of the soil. These grass clippings should not be treated with any synthetic chemicals to avoid negative effects on beneficial insects. Their addition in the form of thick layers must be avoided to reduce the effects of further decaying and mold growth.

Leaf Mulch: Leaves are rich sources of nutrients and their decomposition helps to return macro and micronutrients to the soil. These leaves must be shred before addition to the soil so that their matting and compaction can be avoided. Moreover, their compaction also causes oxygen depletion in the rhizosphere and soil horizons.

Hulls of Cocoa Beans: These hulls produce a good smell, but they should be replaced each year due to their rapid rate of decomposition. Coffee beans should not be used if owners have dog pets as these are not safe and good for the dogs.

Bark: Natural and contaminant-free bark causes insulation of roots and helps to retain water along with improving soil fertility status. In this way, it is essentially helpful to improve living conditions for the beneficial plants and helps to control the population of insect pests.

Compost: Compost mulching provides additional benefits of adding essential nutrients to the soil. Breakdown of mulching layers helps to improve the activities of microorganisms and significantly improves the nutritional status and soil structure.

Straw Mulching: Straw of cereal grains is helpful to avoid unnecessary seeds. This type of mulching is essentially helpful to conserve and regulate soil moisture and temperature. The addition of certified and weeds free mulching protects the garden from the synthetic chemicals and thus supports the populations of beneficial insects.

Inorganic Mulching to Support Beneficial Insects

Growers can use inorganic material for soil mulching as it also helps to maintain soil moisture and to regulate soil temperature. This mulching is especially helpful to minimize the growth of weeds and therefore the need for synthetic chemicals is greatly reduced thus a friendly environment is created for beneficial insects.

Purchasing Beneficial Insects

Some insect parasitoids and predators can be added to the gardens and growing spaces by purchasing them. Although, insects will never be bounded to a specific place and they may be flying to the neighborhood as well. Therefore, gardeners can purchase beneficial insects by getting funding and collaboration from neighbors as it will be helpful for the whole community.

Gardeners should be extremely careful to maintain the populations of these insects as their purchase and release is never enough to get the desired results. Instead, they have to manage things by providing safe, and contaminant-free food, water, and habitat. Some of the beneficial insects also requires specific humidity and temperature conditions for their survival and working.

  • add comment
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Beneficial Insects for Gardening

Not all types of insect species in the garden are pests but some of them are greatly helpful to reduce harmful insects and thus conserve the growth and development of the plants. Beneficial insects are natural creatures to improve ecosystem functioning and to provide pollinating services in the gardens, cultivated areas, and randomly growing vegetations. These insects are essentially helpful to manage the insect pests in the garden and significantly reduces their population below economic threshold levels.

Hoverflies

You can easily identify these insects as have black and yellow coloring as that of wasp and are confused as wasps due to this reason. Many plants are especially good to attract hoverflies such as marigold, potentilla, lemon balm, poached eggplants, mallow, cosmos, dill, alyssum, and yarrow. Hoverflies can fly to an area of about 45 km in an hour. The adults of hoverflies do feed on pollen and nectar. Their larvae are excellent predators of garden aphids and other pests.

Hoverflies are not only helping to control garden pests but also offer good pollination services for flowering and fruit production. The addition of these insects to the garden is an excellent approach to produce safe, high-quality, and nutritionally rich food on a sustainable basis. This practice significantly helps to reduce the demand for synthetic chemicals and thus saves a good amount to the growers.

Lady Birds

Ladybirds exclusively feed on red spider mites and aphids and therefore are categorized as carnivores. Ladybirds are essentially important for organic garden. These insects lay numerous eggs in the colonies of pests and specifically aphids. Each insect after hatching can eat 5000 aphids and will greatly reduce their population.

Ladybirds can only live for about three years and it releases reflex blood or toxic, yellow-colored substances. These insects have distinctive orange or red-colored shell and a variable number of spots ranging between 2-18. Plants that attract the ladybirds include tansy, cinquefoil, fennel, penstemon, alyssum, carpet bugleweed, and yarrow.

Soldier Beetles

These beetles are significantly important predators of aphids, caterpillars, Colorado potato beetles, and Mexican bean beetles. These beetles have good attraction for the plants having compound blossoms.

Solitary Bees

These bees are not living in colonies like bumblebees and honeybees. Hundreds of species of solitary bees have been identified across the globe and their beneficial effects for gardening have also been proven by various scientific studies. These bees make their nests in the bored holes and hollow reeds of woods.

Some of these bees may look like honeybees but they are not provided with the pollen legs. Females of these insects dig their nests and stock it pollens and nectar and then seal it. In this way, young insects can easily fend for themselves. While some bees make their nests in the ground and some excavate in the aerial nests such as in the stems of brambles. Another group of these bees makes their nests in the empty shells of snails and seal their entrance by using saliva and chewed leaves. All species of solitary bees are excellent pollinators, and their population must be maintained in the gardens to ensure safe and nutritionally rich food production.

Ground Beetles

Ground beetles are categorized as voracious beetles and they love snails and slugs. These beetles offer good control of insect pests by eating them. Their eating mechanism consists of vomiting on the pests and wait for the action of digestive enzymes. These enzymes convert their food to the liquid and in this way, the food can be easily consumed by the ground beetles.

Lacewings

Lacewings are common yet beautiful insects and can be easily recognized due to the presence of transparent and lace-like wings. These wings are twice the length of the abdomen. Both the larva and adults of lacewings are voracious consumers of insect eggs and aphids.

Their larva is also provided with the specialized mouthparts and larger jaws that can easily interlock to make pincers. Lacewings impale on the pincers and sucks out the body contents of prey by using their hollow food channels that are specifically running in between the jaws.

Both males and females of lacewings produces less frequency sounds by vibrations of their abdomens. Plants that naturally attracts the lacewings include dandelion, fennel, cosmos, coriander, angelica, dill, ad yarrow.

Moths and Butterflies

Thousands of species of moths and butterflies have been identified in different parts of the globe. Their larva can be regarded as pests in the gardening and cultivating sites, but their adults are excellent and beautiful pollinators. Most of the moths are active at night while and prefer to hold their wings flat. Whereas some moths have feathery or hair-like antennae.

Butterflies extract flowers nectar by using their tongues and helps in pollination. Both butterflies and moths are essentially important elements in the food chain because they prey on insectivores’ animals, bats, and birds. Plants that attract moths and butterflies include night-scented stocks, sweet rocket, honeysuckle, evening primrose, and jasmine.

Parasitic Wasps

These parasites do not have stinging characteristics and usually lay their eggs in or on other insects. They have a gruesome lifecycle and parasitoid larva after hatching from egg eats the host. In this way, parasitic wasps play an important role to kill garden pests. Plants that attract parasitic wasps include marigold, cinquefoil, alyssum, lobelia, cosmos, mallow, dill, and yarrow.

Trichogramma Wasps

The insects of these species lay their eggs specifically in the pest’s eggs and helps to control their populations. These flies look similar to that of house flies, but these are active parasitized of various insects such as grasshoppers, corn borers, green stinkbugs, squash bugs, Japanese beetles, moths, caterpillars, and Mexican bean beetles.

Braconid Wasps

These insects lay eggs on the backsides of caterpillars, and tomato hornworms and makes white cocoons on the backside of caterpillars. The parasitized caterpillars should never be killed as they are essentially beneficial to control different pests.

Robber Flies

Robber flies are provided with extra long legs and are also regarded as bug-eating machines. These flies may have intimidating looks but they do not cause any harm or attack to human beings. These insects must be maintained in the gardens to naturally kill various pests.

Assassin Bugs

These bugs have mixed looks of squash bug and praying mantis and have sharp mouthparts and can easily prey on different types of gardening pests. The adult form of these insects can be confused with squash bugs so gardeners should carefully characterize these bugs to get maximum benefit from these insects.

Spiders

Spiders are essentially beneficial controlling agents for pests, but they are often overlooked due to less knowledge and awareness about their identification, and beneficial roles. These insects are attracted to different prey by the specific movements and can eat various insects alive. Wolf spiders and jumping spiders are especially good to maintain and control the pest population in the gardens, landscapes, and growing spaces.

Non-Insect Beneficial Organisms

Many non-insect creatures are essentially helpful to control pests and to protect growing plants and vegetation.

Snakes: These animals are essentially good to eat pests and rodents and garter snakes are especially good to control slugs. They need a good space to hide and to get water. The use of chemicals must be avoided to maintain a good habitat for snakes.

Toads/Frogs: These are voracious eaters and can easily eat about 10,000 insect pests in the growing spaces. The presence of toads and frogs is an indicator of the balanced and maintained ecosystem in the garden and helps to boost plant growth and development.

Hummingbirds and Birds: These birds can eat a good number of insects and supports various beneficial insects in the growing spaces.

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Is there any possible way to produce maximum biomass without using harmful chemicals?

The truth is that yes, organic can feed the world! Organic can compete with conventional yields and outperform conventional in adverse weather. Small farmers using organic methods have huge potential to expand global food production.

By abstaining from most toxic synthetic inputs, organic farmers protect the environment and prioritize soil health, wildlife habitat, clean and air water, and nutrient-dense foods. Their emphasis is typically less on maximizing crop yields and more on creating healthy, resilient ecosystems.

There is huge potential in small farmers in the developing world for increasing food production and global food security by growing diverse and nutrient-dense foods. 40% of the world’s current crop production comes from these small farmers, and they are poised to make a big difference.

Given simple tools like viable seed and better crop varieties, these farmers can dramatically increase their productivity. Pair those tools with basic infrastructure and weather information to help time planting and harvest, and these small farmers could triple their yields.

All of these methods are organic and sustainable, and they don’t trap farmers in a cycle of binding contracts with chemical and seed companies like Bayer (Monsanto).

Instead, these practical changes can regenerate resources while dramatically increasing yields in many parts of the world.

The small-scale farmer is also nearly guaranteed to grow and raise diverse crops and livestock, enhancing biodiversity, a crucial marker of healthy ecosystems. They also are more likely to grow nutrient-dense varieties that enhance human health instead of corn or soy for animal feed.

The answer isn’t one or the other—large-scale farms or small. Demand for corn and soy will grow as more parts of the world demand animal products and biofuels integrate into more of our technology. It is possible to farm both sustainably—and we must.

What is the role of beneficial insects to overcome insect pests?

Beneficial insects can be useful in integrated pest management of row crops and gardens. They are a form of biological control in that their activity reduces the activity of certain pest species. For many pest insects, the most important check on their populations is the activity of beneficial insects. If populations of beneficial insects are allowed to increase throughout the growing season, they can reduce pest populations of moths, aphids, mites and bugs by 20 to 40 percent.

Some insects, such as honeybees and butterflies, are considered beneficial because of the important role they play in plant pollination. The insects described in this guide are considered beneficial because they feed on other insects (Table 1). They are either predators or parasites. Predators actively hunt and feed on other insects. Many predatory beneficial insects are generalists that feed on many types of prey. The parasites are usually flying wasps or flies that lay their eggs on or in the body of certain kinds of insects. The young feed on and often destroy their hosts.

Noninsect predators are also beneficial in row crops and gardens. Examples include spiders and predatory mites, which are also described in this guide. Collectively, pollinating insects, predatory and parasitic insects, and noninsect predators that help control pests are commonly referred to simply as "beneficials."

What is the maximum working potential of beneficial insects against garden pests?

Beneficial insects can be useful in integrated pest management of row crops and gardens. They are a form of biological control in that their activity reduces the activity of certain pest species. For many pest insects, the most important check on their populations is the activity of beneficial insects. If populations of beneficial insects are allowed to increase throughout the growing season, they can reduce pest populations of moths, aphids, mites and bugs by 20 to 40 percent.

Which species of beneficial insects are good to protect growing spaces against insect pests?

Ground beetles

Adult ground beetles have black or dark metallic coloring (Figure 1). Most adult beetles are nocturnal; they prowl the soil and its surface at night in search of food. Ground beetles feed on soil-dwelling and aboveground pests. The larvae are brown or black and have a wormlike shape, but they are rarely seen because they remain underground.

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Figure 1 Ground beetle.

Lady beetles or ladybugs

There are many different species of lady beetles, but most are typically round or oval shaped with bold patterns and bright colors with spots (Figure 2). Lady beetle larvae have an elongated, dark-colored body with orange and yellow markings (Figure 2. Adult and larval lady beetles feed on aphids; mealybugs; soft-bodied insects, such as caterpillars; and spider mites.

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Figure 2 Lady beetle adult.

Soldier beetles or leather-winged beetles

Adult soldier beetles are elongated with a red, orange or yellow head and abdomen, and black, gray or brown soft wing covers (Figure 3). Larvae are dark, elongated and flattened. The larvae are soil dwellers that feed on insect eggs, aphids, small caterpillars, root maggots, rootworm larvae and other soft-bodied insects. Adult beetles feed on aphids; beetle larvae, including cucumber beetles; caterpillars; and grasshopper eggs.

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Figure 3 Soldier beetle. (Phil Sloderbeck, Kansas State University, Bugwood.org)

Minute pirate bugs or flower bugs

Adult pirate bugs or flower bugs are very small and have a triangular head and a long, oval-shaped body (Figure 4). They are black or purplish and have white wing patches. Nymphs are yellow or reddish-brown and pear-shaped. They feed on small caterpillars, leafhopper nymphs, spider mites, thrips, aphids and the eggs of many other insects.

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Figure 4 Minute pirate bug feeding on aphid.

Bigeyed bugs

Bigeyed bugs are long, oval and somewhat flat, and range in color from black and white to tan (Figure 5). Like the name implies, these bugs have prominent bulging eyes and a wider head than other bugs. They feed on aphids, caterpillars, leafhoppers, spider mites and tarnished plant bugs.

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Figure 5 Bigeyed bug feeding on aphid. (Jack Dykinga, USDA)

Damsel bugs

Damsel bugs are slender yellowish-brown bugs with an elongated head and long antennae (Figure 6). They feed on aphids, small caterpillars, leafhoppers, plant bugs, thrips and treehoppers.

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Figure 6 Damsel bug. (Jim Kalisch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Department of Entomology)

Predatory stink bugs

Predatory stink bugs are also known as spined soldier bugs. Adults are pale brown to tan. Their forewings have membranous tips that overlap, and a distinct dark line is visible where the wings overlap (Figure 7). Young nymphs are red and black, whereas older nymphs are marked with red, black, yellow-orange and cream patches. These bugs feed on fall armyworms, beet armyworms, corn earworms, European corn borers, diamondback moths, cabbage loopers, imported cabbageworms, Colorado potato beetles, Mexican bean beetles and hairless caterpillars.

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Figure 7 Damsel bug. (Jim Kalisch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Department of Entomology)

Ambush bugs

Ambush bugs have a stout body and thickened, mantid-like front legs (Figure 8). Their coloring ranges from black to brown to yellow to green. They prey on bees, flies and wasps.

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Figure 8 Ambush bug. (Kansas Department of Agriculture Archive, Bugwood.org)

Assassin bugs

Adult assassin bugs are black, red or brown and have a long narrow head with round beady eyes. They are relatively large insects with a long pair of front legs. Some species of assassin bugs can inflict a painful bite if mishandled. Assassin bugs prey on aphids, leafhoppers, small caterpillars, flies, and beetle eggs and larvae. One of the most common assassin bugs in Missouri is the wheel bug (Figure 9).

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Figure 9 Wheel bug.

How to Attract and Maintain A Good Population of Beneficial Insects in the Growing Spaces?

It is also important to have as much diversity as possible in your plantings. A mix of trees and shrubs, turfgrass (yes, low maintenance turf is an important habitat for some beneficials!), and annual and perennial flowers is best. Permanent plantings such as trees, shrubs and turf provide a place for beneficial insects to overwinter. The adults of many beneficials feed primarily on pollen and nectar, so it is important to have something in bloom from early spring until late fall.

Some of the best flower families for attracting beneficials

Carrot Family (Apiaceae)

plants in the carrot family are especially attractive to small parasitic wasps and flies. Interplant them in your vegetable garden and flower beds. Plants in this family include: caraway (Carum carvi); coriander/cilantro (Coriandrum sativum); dill (Anethum graveolens); fennel (Foeniculum vulgare); Bishop's flower (Ammi majus); Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota); and toothpick ammi (Ammi visnaga).

Aster Family (Asteraceae)

attractive to larger predators such as lady beetles and soldier beetles. Incorporate into the vegetable garden and flower beds. Plants in this family include: blanketflower (Gaillardia spp.); coneflower (Echinacea spp.); coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.); cosmos (Cosmos spp.); golden marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria); goldenrod (Solidago spp.); signet marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia); sunflower (Helianthus spp.); tansy (Tanacetum vulgare); and yarrow (Achillea spp.).

Legumes (Fabaceae)

generally grown as cover crops and attractive to many beneficials. Plants in this family include: alfalfa (Medicago sativa); fava bean (Vicia fava); hairy vetch (Vicia villosa); and sweet clover (Melilotus spp.).

Mustard Family (Brassicaceae)

attractive to beneficials that are parasites and predators of the insect pests of the mustard family (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, mustard greens). Be sure to plant these away from the garden rather than in the garden since these plants attract pests as well as beneficials. Some are common weeds, such as yellow rocket and wild mustard. Plants in this family include: basket-of-gold alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis); mustards (Brassica spp.); sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima); yellow rocket (Barbarea vulgaris); and wild mustard (Brassica kaber).

Verbena Family (Verbenaceae)

attractive to a variety of beneficial insects. Many plants in this family are favorite garden flowers. They include: lantana (Lantana camera); Buenos Aires verbena (Verbena bonariensis); hybrid verbena (Verbena x hybrida); and lilac vervain (Verbena rigida).

Beneficial insects also need a source of water. Shallow containers such as ceramic pot saucers with pebbles for the beneficials to rest on are best.

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