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Beneficial Insects

A garden without bugs is like a city without people. Gardens are like a private zoo or nature reserve. You can see a thriving array of wildlife! For example, millions of organisms live in harmony most of the time. Not all of them are nasty bugs or dangerous enemies. But when we have the wrong combination of plants which attract various bugs, then our plants get eaten by too many of the little critters!

If you look at your garden like an eco-system, a whole world opens up before your eyes. When you look at your vegetable garden, you have to realize it will attract pests. Either you can control this with pesticide, which may damage your garden in the future – or you can use a biological control. For example, if you plant lettuce then you should plant marigold or daisies around the vegetable so that they counteract any pests attracted by the lettuce.

In general, there is not a home gardener who needs to use herbicides. It is easier to dig up a few weeds than to spray them and risk damaging other plants, and damaging your own health, the health of your children and your pets. If you do use pesticides, look at the label for the most eco-safe ones you can find. Then use them sparingly and only according to their printed directions.

Do your own Biological Control!
You can collect the good predator insects on your walking trips and put them to work in your garden. For example, cut a piece of plant with ladybug or larvae ladybugs with aphids, and put them into a jar. Do not expose the bottle to heat or to sun; it is best to keep them covered, perhaps under a towel. At home, carefully transfer these good predator insects onto your infested plants. You can also use diatomaceous earth around your garden and it will control many types of harmful insects, snails and slugs. Look at other organic gardening websites for eco-friendly ways to a successful garden.

The Soil-Builders
Many insects in their childhood or larval stage live in the soil and change rotting plant and compost into humus. They are everywhere in your garden, if you don’t use pesticides. Often people confuse earthworms in this category. But earthworms are not an insect or an insect larvae. They belong to a group of animals called annelids, the ringed or segmented worms. But earthworms are certainly great soil-builders and every gardener’s friend, but pesticides can send them fleeing to your neighbor’s garden if you’re not careful!

The Pollinators
They are:
* Bees (Hymenoptera)
* Butterflies (Lepidoptera))
* Moths (Lepidoptera))
* Flies (Diptera)
* Beetles (Coleoptera), (Cleridae)
* Jewel Beetles (Buprestidae)
* Anthicidae, some Scarabaeidae.
* Wasps (Hymenoptera)

The Predators
These are the good guys which protect your garden against the pests.
They are:
* Earwigs (Dermaptera)
* Praying mantis (Mantodea)
* Green lacewings (Neuroptera)
* Ground beetles (Coleoptera)
* Ladybug/ladybird beetles (Coleoptera)
* True Wasps (Hymenoptera)
* Lacewings (Neuroptera)
* Dragonflies (Odonata)


Great References

A field guide to the insects of America North of Mexico.
Borror, D. J. & R. E. White, 1970. Peterson field guide series, Houghton Mifflin.

Biological Control of Insects Pests and Weeds,
Debach, P., ed. 1964, London, Chapman and Hall Ltd.

Biological Control by Natural Enemies,
Debach, P., ed. 1974, London, Cambridge University Press.

The Spiders of Connecticut.
Kaston, B. J., 1948. St. Geol. and Nat. Hist. Surv. Bull. 70: 1-874.

The Audubon Society field guide to North American insects and spiders.
Milne, L. & M., 1980. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.