There’s a war going on outside your home. You might not hear the whine of mortar fire or the rumble of tanks but there are bad bugs all set to feast on your precious plants. Fortunately, there are also good bugs that are just as determined to hunt down and gobble up those aphids, thrips, and other nasty critters. This post is dedicated to the good bugs that help keep the bad bugs under control.
If you look quickly, you might mistake a tachinid fly for the all too common housefly. But this insect is on the side of good in your garden. This photo is just one of several varieties of tachinids that lay their eggs on insects such as Japanese beetles, squash bugs, and sawfly larvae. The eggs hatch and gobble up the bugs that would otherwise be gobbling your garden plants. Score one for the good guys!
Here’s another beneficial insect that looks like something else, in this case a bee. But syrphid flies don’t sting and don’t gather nectar. They do have a role to play in combating aphids, thrips, and mites. They lay their tiny eggs near infestations of those sucking insects. Then when the larvae emerge they snack on the bad bugs. Let’s hear it for syrphids!
Who doesn’t love to see the bright red ladybug in their garden? These little cuties are voracious eaters of aphids. And it’s not just the adults that chomp down on these pests. The immature larval form of ladybugs look totally different from the adult but are equally beneficial in controlling the Green Menace (aka aphids).
I love seeing the pale green, delicate wings of the lacewing when I’m out gardening. The adults can often be seen fluttering around outdoor lighting. They snack on pollen and nectar but their larvae are the aggressive aphid lions. Their sickle-shaped mouths help them spear and hold aphids while they dine.
Last but not least we have the soldier bug. The adult feeds on aphids. The larvae feed on other beetles grasshoppers, cabbage loopers, Colorado potato beetles, and moths. That makes it welcome in any organic garden.