Good Bugs

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Friday, March 13, 2020 - 6:00am

Dr. Gary Bachman: Insect pests can cause problems in the garden, but not all insects are bad, today on Southern Gardening.

Announcer: Southern Gardening with Gary Bachman is produced by the Mississippi State University extension service.

Dr. Gary Bachman: In fact, there's a literal army of insects on our side in our landscape pest battles. Beneficial insects are a natural and earth friendly way to defend the garden. The band guys like aphids are always around. Many times, we just don't see them as the good guys keep them in check. Here are a few of the most recognizable.

Lady beetles are voracious aphid eaters, but they will also dine on thrips, mealy bugs, and mites, and they do double duty as their larvae have big appetites too. They can eat up to 40 aphids each day.

A beautiful insect with large transparent wings in a bright green body is the green lacewing. The adult lacewings only feed on nectar, but the larvae are ravenous predators and feed on aphids and other soft-bodied insects.

Predatory wasp called braconids seek out many of the caterpillar pests such as tomato horn worm. The wasp lays its eggs on the horn warm, and as they hatch, they eat the host, killing the hornworm in the process. Gruesome yes, but effective.

These beneficial insects are always out in the garden looking for their next meal. Many will also feed on nectar and pollen, so creating a suitable habitat will help keep them in your garden. You can also buy some from a local garden center or meal or company, but realize once the meal is over, they'll probably leave. It may be difficult to accept bugs as your friend, but remember that many are on our side, they make it a little easier. I'm horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

Announcer: Southern Gardening with Gary Bachman is produced by the Mississippi State University extension service.

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