For those of us that grow in an indoor or controlled environment, it could be a grow tent, greenhouse, hoophouse, a botany room in your home and so forth, or even outdoors in the dirt or raised beds, it doesn't even matter because at some point we all come in contact with a pesky garden bug in our gardens and facilities. I'll be writing a few articles over this subject going over which to use against aphids, spider mites, russett mites, caterpillars and much more! Even though we have bad bugs that affect our plants, luckiliy nature has allowed us to not go without a fight by providing different deterents to combat those mangy pests! From cover crops, to organic materials such at diatomeceous earth, we are provided with a wide array of all natural sources to help our plants grow and thrive! One method is to fight fire with fire! We will talk about 4 certain beneficial bugs that can take care of a wide array of insect problems on our farms, there are MANY different beneficial insects that can help resolve or prevent bad bug issues, but for now we will cover 4 that can almost wipe out all other bug problems and they are: Ladybugs, Beneficial nematodes, predatory mites, and preying mantis.
Ladybugs, a great option for dealing with aphids!
Ladybugs generally feed on slowing-moving insects, but their best known for is feeding on aphids, which is a major problem in our region of the country (Oklahoma). They also target moth eggs, mites, mealy bugs, thrips, leaf hoppers, and other insects. They become an instant predator in their larva and adult stages. Ladybugs can have upto a 100 day life span and a single female ladybug can lay around 1500 eggs in their lifetime!
The larvae can eat up to 400 aphids in their lifetime and an adult ladybug can devour over 4500 aphids in its lifetime!
When storing ladybugs, they can be kept in 40-60 degrees around 1-3 weeks. When releasing ladybugs, make sure you do it either early morning or in the evening time when temperatures are lower. Ladybugs will scatter when in direct sunlight. For improved performance, mist leaves beforehand.
Ladybugs can begin reproduction right away when provided with the enough food and moisture! When that is the case, you can expect a few generations of ladybugs per grow cycle!
Predatory Mites, the best offensive use on spider mites!
Predatory mites come in a wide array of different species, ranging from the Phytoseiulus persimilis aka the "two spotted killer" which, as the name implies, focuses strictly on the two-spotted spider mites (Tetranychus urticae), or the Amblyseius swirskii, which handle spider mites, broad mites, russet mites and so much more! These beneficial insects are a great source to have for any spider mite infestation.
The special blend predatory mites that you can order from amazon, eBay, Tiptopbio, Arbico, or any supplier of beneficial bugs, is my go-to for our garden. Reason being it handles EVERY mite problem that could be in your garden, greenhouse, or indoor facility, whether its spider mites, russet, or broad, every species of predatory mites was chosen to handle these exact situations. Its a great choice for those starting out on beneficial bugs and for those that are just unsure what to use for their mite problems. You will see a mixture of orange and red mites with long legs and you will know they are there ready to WORK!
If you know exactly what problem your facing in your garden or facility then the best option would be to focus on that specific predatory mites like swirskiis if you only have russet or broad mites.
Andersoni's should be used for those high temperature climates. Each type of predatory mite can be ordered seperately or through a special blend mix which has 3 different varieties to handle all your mite troubles!
Praying Mantis FTW
The next beneficial bug on the block is the praying mantis. Besides having just a general "cool factor" these bugs are real menaces to the larger size pest that are garden and grows may succumb to. They are known to handle crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and are known for killing small birds, like hummingbirds if they get to close.
Mantises in general, are very territorial. They are also silent stalkers and will stalk and track its prey for literal DAYS to get their kill. Talk about patience! Praying mantises have heads with special receptors that send out nerve impulses that adjust the distance and angle of their quick strike. A perfect stalking nightmare for those pesky bad bugs that affect our plants.
Praying mantises are bought as eggs from retailers and each egg case can hatch out 50-200 mantises, when hatching, the young will crawl between tiny flaps in the egg case and hang from the silken threads for about an hour or until the silken threads dry up. One of the only downsides is that, It could take up to 6 weeks for these eggs to hatch!
Beneficial Nematodes, fighting problems from your media!
One of our personal favorites, especially when dealing with pests that can lay eggs in your soil *cough* Aphids *cough*. So what are beneficial nematodes? They are microscopic worms that are found naturally in the soil. They are safe around people, pets, and will not harm other beneficials.
Nematodes actively hunt for insect larvae, entering through their natural openings. When their inside the larvae, they excrete a bacteria that kills the larvae! Talk about gruesome! The nematodes feed and reproduce within the dying insect, before leaving the host to find more pests. Now thats some Sci-Fi stuff right there!
Just like all things that require food, once the pest population starts to decrease, so will the nematodes, which is why it's recommended to release semi-annually.
Beneficial bugs are a great way to counter the pesky garden bugs that can destroy our gardens and grows. It helps mitigate the use or completely eradicate the use of sprays when you create a regimen or good bug cycle for your plants. Allowing for no spray residue to affect flavor or taste of all our herbs, vegetables, and medicinal use! There are many other types of beneficial bugs such as, pirate bugs, trichogramma, assassin bugs, and so forth! It's always good to do some research over those specific bugs.
We wanted to create an educational view of these beneficials because when used in conjuction with each other, they can eliminate practically every pest issue your garden or facility. Ladybugs for the aphids and thrips, predatory mites for the wide range of bad spider mites, mantises for the bigger bug issues like caterpillars, and nematodes to handle any kind of issues in the soil such as eggs laid by spider mites or aphids, mosquitos and fungus gnats!
Your covered from all angles with these 4 different types of beneficial bugs, without having to worry about spraying your plants again!
Thank you for visiting our page and make sure to check out our YouTube video that covers these beneficial bugs and more!