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Beneficial garden insects: Part 1

Abell Pest Control

Not all insects are bad to have around your plants. Unlike the mites and worms that can gnaw on leaves, stalks and stems, making your plants shrivel and die, others can actually help you. There are some bugs that eat the more hazardous pests, and others that create a beneficial environment for the plants. Knowing the difference between harmful and beneficial insects is a skill any serious gardener should have. Just having such information could save you hours of work - as well as provide some balance to the local ecosystem. Unfortunately, methods used to get rid of one bug can often affect a whole host of others that were doing no harm, so it's important to understand this before blanketing an area in pesticides.

Aphid midge

The aphid midge resembles a cross between a mosquito and a fly. Unlike those two creatures, this one does not generally bother humans. They prefer to use their toxic saliva to incapacitate and eat smaller insects such as aphids. A population of the midges can keep aphids from chewing away at the plants in your garden. According to the University of California, organic farmers can even purchase colonies of the insect to distribute among their plants.

Black ground beetle

The black ground beetle usually roams around in the vicinity of plants looking for prey. According to the Fairfax County Public School system, these beetles like to eat caterpillars, worms, aphids, weevils, slugs and fly maggots. In general, they do not harm plants, so gardeners should welcome them to their vegetable patches. According to the source, these beetles originally come from Europe, which means they have few natural predators in the U.S. and Canada.

Green lacewing

The green lacewing is a slender, green flying insect with near-transparent wings. Its appearance makes it very easy for it to blend in with plantlife. According to the University of California, the insect likes to prey upon such garden pests as thrips, mealybugs, mites and leafhoppers. Gardeners can purchase green lacewing eggs online and have them in time for the arrival of the spring season.

Lady beetle

Not to be confused with the Asian lady beetle, which can be harmful to plants, the convergent lady beetle is fond of devouring aphids. Distributing a colony of lady beetles into a crop with severe aphid damage can be much more beneficial than spraying a pesticide.

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