The world abounds with insects, they are an intricate part of the environment and essential for our continued existence on this planet.
Yet many of them are destructive and threaten our food crops. The common practice of using pesticides to combat the pest problem unfortunately has caused a multitude of other problems for the environment and all the inhabitants of our planet.
How safe is the food we buy, Check out this link to the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables
It is not always necessary to apply poisonous sprays to combat the pests present in your garden, there are many options that organic gardeners have been successfully using for years.
There is much going on in and around your garden that most people don't see unless they get down and look closely. The destructive pests show themselves constantly with the damage they do, but quietly working in the background are other insects that we call beneficial insects fighting the good fight.
With a little knowledge and the right tools you can help your garden friendly pest controllers do what they do best, eliminate the problem insects.
Identifying your friends in the garden is the first step to gardening without poisons.
Below are some of the many beneficial garden insects you are likely to find in your garden.
The assassin bugs are a diverse group of predator bugs that eat a huge variety of insects. They range in size from small to large and most are considered to be beneficial insects.
Leafhopper Assassin Bug - Zelus renardii
Bees are well known for their role in pollination.
While there are nearly 20,000 known species of bees, probably the best known is the European honey bee.
We don't care what species they are as long as they are in there doing the job it's all good.
One of the most elegant beneficial garden insects you will find in your garden, dragonflies do not sting or bite. They feed on a variety of insects including gnats, flies, mosquitoes and moths.
Elegant and beautiful
Getting a close look reveals their vibrant colors
OK so a frog isn't an insect but they do a really good job of eating lots of them.
Eyes wide open watching the cricket in the middle of that lettuce leaf. Any minute now, as fast as lightning this brown frog will have it.
Ha Ha Ha Another non insect that does enormous good in your garden. Geckos come in various patterns and colors, they are among the most colorful lizards in the world, and so cute to boot.
Depending on the species but crickets, cockroaches small invertebrates such as worms and beetles, mosquitoes and small moths are some of the meals geckos will hunt for in your garden.
Hover-flies, sometimes called syrphid flies. As their common name suggests, they are often seen hovering over flowers feeding on nectar and pollen
Hover-flies attach their eggs usually singly to the underside of leaves among or near their prey.
Some species of hover-flies produce larvae that are insectivores and prey on aphids, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects.
For this reason they are recognized as important for use in biological pest control.
The adults of most Lacewing species eat only nectar and honeydew. The Lacewing larvae however are a different story. Often referred to as "aphid lions" Lacewing larvae are voracious predators, attacking most insects of suitable size. As well as devouring large numbers of aphids these beneficial garden insects will add mites, thrips, mealybugs, immature white flies, and small caterpillars to their menu.
Its funny how an insect that looks as delicate as this adult lacewing can produce off spring that are voracious predators.
This green lacewing larvae is heading for a collection of aphids. It will use those deadly looking curved mandibles to first grab the prey, then pierce its body and suck out the contents of those nasty little aphids.
Lacewing adults place their eggs on a slender stalk, usually on the underside of a leaf and close to where aphids are present in large numbers.
There are seven subfamilies of ladybugs, or now commonly called ladybird beetles because they are not a true bug. With more than 5,000 known species they come in a variety of colors and the number of spots also varies greatly.
Asian lady beetle, also known as the Japanese ladybug or the Harlequin ladybird. This species can be distinguished by a dark coloration in the shape of an M or W, depending on which direction you are looking from, on the part between head and the base of wings.
Both beetle larvae and adults are predators of aphids and other plant eating insects. This Asian ladybird larvae is heading for a meal of aphids on this cucumber leaf.
The mealy bug destroyer or also known as mealy bug Ladybird is a member of the ladybird species. The mealy bug destroyer loves to eat mealy bugs, especially citrus mealy bugs. However that is not their only diet and are aggressive feeders of many different species of aphids.
This member of the ladybird family is neither spotted nor brightly colored as are most other Coccinellidae. It is widely used for biological control of mealy bugs and other scale insects.
The larva look strikingly like the mealy bugs they prey on, a very aggressive mimicry tactic. Both the larval and adult stages of this predator attack all stages of mealy bugs, soft scales and aphids.
The name "paper wasps" refers to members in the subfamily vespid of the Polistinae family of insects. Totaling around 1100 species, they are called paper wasps because they make their nests out of paper.
Looking very menacing and while many people are wary of them, most wasps are included as beneficial garden insects. Not only are they pollinators but they also feed on many insects pests. Including caterpillars, flies, and beetle larvae.
Praying mantis are in the Mantodea order of insects that contains over 2,400 species.
Most mantises are ambush predators that only feed on live prey. Small insects being their primary targets however as they grow so does their size and choice of pray.
One of the strangest beneficial garden insects you will see. Belonging to a group of bugs known as assassin bugs the wheeler bug sports the characteristic structure of what looks like a cogged wheel emerging from the top of the thorax.
The wheeler bug is a relentless predator of soft-bodied insects such as caterpillars, beetles, larvae and the like. They are very shy so you will need to look carefully to find them.