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relationship status: insects with benefits...

Updated: Dec 28, 2022

 


Beneficial insects are an essential part of any healthy ecosystem, playing a vital role in maintaining the balance of nature and controlling pest populations. From pollinators like bees and butterflies to predatory insects like ladybugs and praying mantises, these tiny creatures are often overlooked but have a huge impact on the health of our gardens, farms, and even our own well-being. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the most interesting and important beneficial insects, and how you can encourage their presence in your own backyard or garden.


Here is a list of 10 beneficial insects that you may not know about:


  1. Bees - Pollinators that are essential for the production of many fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

  2. Ladybugs - Predatory insects that feed on aphids and other small pests.

  3. Praying mantises - Carnivorous insects that can help control pest populations in gardens and farms.

  4. Lacewings - Delicate insects with transparent wings that feed on aphids and other small pests.

  5. Ground beetles - Shiny, hard-bodied insects with long legs that feed on a wide range of pests, including slugs, snails, and cutworms.

  6. Hoverflies - Resembling bees and wasps, but with no sting, hoverflies are important pollinators and their larvae feed on aphids.

  7. Beneficial nematodes - Tiny, worm-like organisms that can be used to control pest populations in gardens and farms.

  8. Tachinid flies - Parasitic flies that lay their eggs on or inside the bodies of pest insects.

  9. Black soldier flies - large non-pest species flies that can help with composting, pest control, and the production of animal feed and fertilizers.

  10. Predatory mites - Small, spider-like insects that feed on other mites and insects, including pests like spider mites and thrips.


Of all beneficial insects, we certainly have some favourites which top the list. Here's a little more info about our top 3 favourite beneficial insects:


  • Black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) - beneficial insects that can serve a variety of important roles in the ecosystem. They are voracious decomposers, able to quickly break down organic matter such as food waste and yard waste, making them a useful tool in composting and waste management. In addition, the larvae of black soldier flies are highly nutritious and can be used as a protein-rich feed for chickens, fish, and other animals. The adult flies are also important pollinators, helping to ensure the health and reproductive success of a variety of plant species. Black soldier flies can also help control pest populations by consuming insects and other invertebrates that might otherwise harm crops or gardens.

  • Ladybugs, also known as ladybirds or lady beetles (Coccinellidae) - small, brightly colored insects that are popular with gardeners and farmers due to their ability to control pest populations. Ladybugs are carnivorous insects that feed on aphids, mites, and other small pests that can damage plants. This makes them a valuable ally in pest control, as they can help to reduce the need for chemical insecticides. In addition to their role in pest control, ladybugs are also important pollinators, helping to ensure the health and reproductive success of a variety of plant species.

  • (Praying) Mantis (Mantodea) - Praying mantises are ferocious predatory insects known for their distinctive praying posture and large, grasping forelegs. They have excellent vision and are able to locate and capture their prey with precise movements of their heads and forelegs. They feed on a variety of pest species insects and play a valuable role in controlling pest populations and maintaining the balance of nature. They are found in a wide range of habitats around the world and are prized by gardeners and farmers for their ability to control pest populations.


As pest controllers, it is vital for us to understand and appreciate beneficial insects as a part of our ecosystem so that we can do our best to avoid disrupting nature more than we need to. We employ a variety of methods in order to successfully control pests in homes and businesses which include

  • excluding pests through various proofing methods,

  • restricting access to food and water,

  • consistent and constant monitoring of signs of activity and finally,

  • chemical and mechanical destruction of infestations.


Chemical pest control can be highly effective at killing or repelling pests, but it can also have unintended consequences, such as killing beneficial insects or disrupting the balance of ecosystems, either by directly poisoning them or by disrupting their habitat or food sources.

In some cases, the use of chemical pest control can lead to a reduction in the number of beneficial insects, which can then lead to an increase in pest populations as there are fewer natural predators to control them. This can create a cycle of increased reliance on chemical pest control, rather than a more sustainable and integrated approach to pest management that relies on a combination of environmental, physical, and biological control methods.


There's clearly a lot at stake when it comes to controlling pests, this is just one of the reasons we take every precaution to correctly identify the pests we're trying to control and first try to exhaust all of our options before opting to use chemical methods. When we do use chemicals it is done strictly according to guidelines and at the lowest dosage possible to avoid exposing non-target species and causing unnecessary harm to the environment.


We all have an important role to play in protecting our environment and ensuring we cause as little damage as possible. It's a reality that some insects are harmful to us, but we need to decide when to destroy and when to protect and it's important to find a balance between protecting our health and property as well as protecting our environment and all the creatures that live in it.


With all of this in mind, here are some helpful tips to encourage the presence of beneficial insects in your own garden:


  • Plant a variety of flowering plants and herbs - Many beneficial insects are attracted to flowers and herbs, so planting a variety of these can help encourage their presence in your garden or farm. Some plants that are particularly attractive to beneficial insects include dill, fennel, cilantro, and yarrow.

  • Use organic and environmental pest control methods - As we've discussed, chemical pesticides can be harmful to beneficial insects, so using organic pest control methods, and preventing access to your home and food and water for pests before resorting to chemicals, can help encourage the presence of beneficial insects in your garden.

  • Avoid using broad-spectrum pesticides - If you must resort to chemicals, using these types of pesticides can kill a wide range of insects, both beneficial and harmful. Instead, use targeted pesticides that are specifically designed to control specific pests.

  • Avoid using insecticides on flowering plants - Many beneficial insects, such as bees and butterflies, rely on flowers as a source of food. Avoid using insecticides on flowering plants to help protect these beneficial insects.

  • Leave some areas of your garden untended - Allowing some areas of your garden to grow wild can provide habitat and food for beneficial insects, as well as other wildlife.

  • Educate others - Sharing your knowledge about the importance of beneficial insects and how to encourage their presence can help raise awareness and encourage more people to adopt sustainable practices in their own gardens and farms.


Hopefully this helps you to find appreciation for some of the amazing beneficial insects which are all around us and hopefully identify the good ones from the bad ones - if you are ever unsure though, you know who to call!



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