As a kid I was fascinated with bugs (to say the least) and I have probably, from egg to egg, raised ladybugs, Anise Swallowtail butterflies, Painted Lady Butterflies, and Praying Mantises with the last being the most difficult. Most insect pests have predators - so it can greatly help to know each kind of beneficial insect (those that eat your insect pests) that lives in your area and how you can use them to minimize your crop damage and work. I would much rather have beneficial insects do the work of eliminating pests for me.
|Grey Aphids can do some damage to the top of plants|
|Aphidius colemani parasitic wasps finding aphids on the leaf|
There are some insect pests whose presence in my garden must be addressed immediately, because of the extent of damage a few can cause and because they have no native predators to bring their population down to numbers that are acceptable to me. These include cucumber beetles, tomato hornworms, squash vine borers, and cutworms. Many of the rest of my pests I rely on beneficial insects to take care of. The most common pest in my garden is aphids. With wings that enable them to fly from one location to another, with ants working hard to protect them (ants harvest nectar from many kinds of aphids), and with the ability to double their population in a matter of days aphids can do a lot of damage to a garden. Their method of attack is sucking juice from the plant, which weakens the plant and can result in leaf curl of both old and new growth. Aphids have many enemies including parasitic wasps, the fuzzy Scymnus beetle larvae, lacewing nymphs, ladybug nymphs and various caterpillars and nymphs of other kinds.
|Aphidius colemani parasitic wasp hatching from prey.|
|Hoverfly Larvae eat aphids.|
|Scymnus beetle larvae enjoy eating aphids too|
|Lacewing Egg on a leaf.|
|Adult Green Lacewing|
|Fast ladybugs are difficult to catch on camera|
|Cabbage Looper caterpillar...|
|...plus caterpillar Parasitic Wasp...|
|...equals new home for wasps!|