Four Seasons Gardening Series – Beneficial Insects

Four Seasons Gardening Series – Beneficial Insects


Hoping everybody is ready to go through
this PowerPoint on beneficial insects. I am Kelly Allsup and I’m a Horticulture
educator and I’m based out of Bloomington, so I serve Livingston, McLean, and Woodford counties, and I am gonna
present today, so I wanted to thank Kari, Candace, and Martha for having me present on absolutely one of my favorite topics which is insects, but more so than just
insects, beneficial insects. My story really started off as I was… and if
you’ve ever been in one of my Master Gardener trainings, you might have heard
this story before, but bear with me. It really starts with me being a greenhouse
grower. And I started off at the U of I, and I was growing… I was responsible for
a portion of plants, and mostly what I grew were either research plants or
plants for classes for identification purposes. And so every Thursday I would
go through and I would scout my greenhouses, and I would find tons of
insect pests. Well, if I’m growing the most common research plants
at the University of Illinois, which are corn and soybeans, and I have thrips or
spider mites that have attacked them, I’ve got to take care of those thrips or
spider mites or I’m not going to get good seed set. So, after I scouted my greenhouse I would put on my what I call my marshmallow man suit, and
I’d look a little bit like an alien or like I was going out into space, and I’d
start spraying chemicals. And, at first it was okay for me. I would see some kill
and would be happy with what was going on, but when you have a crop in your
greenhouse for more than three or four months, you start rotating through your
chemicals really fast because when you spray a chemical you always want to
spray a different mode of action the next time so you don’t start getting
resistance. But that is exactly what was happening. I was getting resistance to
the chemicals that I was using in the greenhouse. And it was very frustrating
because when you, umm… when you… sit… when you… stand up and you spray and, you’re in this hot suit and you try to get good
coverage and then you don’t get good kill, you have to figure out what you’re
gonna do because it’s a problem. It has to be taken care of, so one of the
things that my colleague and I… is we started releasing beneficial insects in
the greenhouse. And of course it was very easy to get some people on board, and it was
very hard to get others on board. You know, it’s like, “it’s always
worked this way, why would we change it?” “Why why invest money in these beneficial
insects?” But it actually worked out very very well, and to this day we have a green
house grower, her name is Heather ____, and she’s there at the U of I growing
soybeans and corn just like I did, and she’s still implementing these
beneficial insects. So after I was a green house grower, I became a horticulture educator and I kind of had to translate that information that I learned of implementing beneficial insects to maybe helping
gardeners attract them or even identify them. I think one of the things that we
do is… not particularly us, but maybe other types of gardeners, they look at an
insect and they always think that it’s bad. It can never be good. It’s
gonna bite me it’s gonna sting me. It’s gonna eat my plants, but to really get in
there and look at what’s in your garden, you’ll soon learn that there’s tons of
beneficial insects in your gardens that are taking care of pest problems that
you probably didn’t even know that you had. So we’re gonna go through some of
those really common ones that you’re gonna find. One of my favorite things to
do is to go into a garden and look for aphids because I call them… aphids are big, they’re dumb, and they’re full of sugar, and beneficial insects absolutely love
them. So I’ve actually been scolded by some
master gardeners, where they’re saying “stop looking at my insect infestations,” and I’m like really proud of them for not spraying chemicals and having all
these beneficial insects that I can look at. So, even though they feel a little
embarrassed, I love finding the insects and I love looking for them. The first
one we’re going to talk about is, we’re gonna talk about an Aphid Lion–what a
cool name! Actually, it’s called an aphid lion, but they say it looks like an
alligator. I must say I kind of agree. It looks like a little alligator but it is
ferocious like a lion. It is the larvae of a very common insect, and that insect
is your green …[inaudible]… your green lacewing. And so what the green lacewing does is
it lays its eggs, and I have a picture later on of the eggs, and these larvae hatch
and the adult lacewing tends to go towards where the larva is going to have
prey. The mouth…. whoa… that’s kind of menacing looking, these really large
curved mandibles. They’re actually hollow. They do… they can inject a paralyzing
venom but they can also… they also extract the juices of the aphid so it’s
not gonna, like, chew the aphid it’s just going to suck the juices out of the
aphid and throw the carcass down on the ground. And this little guy, when
I turn over a leaf that has an aphid infestation I always find an aphid lion.
He is going to eat about 600 aphids in 14 to 20 days. He may not only eat
aphids, he could go for other smaller body invertebrates like a caterpillar,
beetle, scale, mealy bugs, leaf hoppers, thrips, and mites. And in fact, in the
industry, this guy has been used as a beneficial insect purposely released for
mealy bug issues or leaf hopper issues. For us in the greenhouse this guy
was a volunteer, and what I mean by that was since we were releasing beneficial
insects we had to limit the type of chemicals that we were spraying. We could
no longer spray stuff like organophosphates
or carbamates, but we had to spray biological pesticides and because we had
done that, it stopped being such a toxic environment. And so beneficial insects
would naturally come into the greenhouse just like this little guy on the left.
His his mom laid an egg because it was no longer a toxic
environment, and she found plenty of aphids for her baby to eat. Now this is a
plant that Heather ____ kept for our greenhouse, so it was pepper plants, and
she allowed these aphids to infest this pepper plant and this aphid, it’s
called a banker crop, these aphids were to rear aphid parasitoids, and you’ll
see those later on in the PowerPoint. So, because we had changed… stop spraying the harsh chemicals and started releasing our own beneficial insects and then used
chemicals like spinosad or neem oil that are much softer on beneficial insects, we
were starting to get volunteers and this guy volunteered and he ate up those
aphids so it was a wonderful thing all around. So, it may not, you see in
this Alex Wilde picture, Alex Wild, by the way is one of my favorite insect
photographers. He’s actually from originally University of Illinois, has
since moved to University of Texas, and he has a quite an extensive collection
of beautiful photographs of different insects and their behavior, so shout out
to Alex Wilde for allowing me to capture this menacing insect going after what
kind of looks like a ladybug larva to me. But, it just goes to show that
some beneficial insects they don’t just go for the bad guys they go for anything
that’s smaller than them and they can suck the juices out of. On the right side
is a picture from a colleague. Now this is an aphid lion that has covered its
body with carcasses of old aphids, of aphids that it has already attacked, past
victims. Debris, organic debris like lichens or vegetation. Now, what bizarre
behavior to cover yourself with your past victims but this is kind of like a very cool adaption that this growing
green lacewing has made to be able to get past ants. Now, we know that if you’ve
ever seen an aphid infestation you might see ants, and the ants are actually kind
of farming those aphids because they want the honeydew, and the honeydew is
the frass–the poop–and they’ll eat that. And so they’ll actually protect those
aphids from predators, like this aphid lion. And they might throw them away. They might push him off the plant or push
them onto the ground. Well, when he’s covered like this, he can actually sneak
past those ants to go and get his food. So what a cool adaption, you know? Cover
yourself with aphid carcasses and lichens. So what a cool little picture.
You see that beautiful little sickle… shell… sickle-shaped mouth. Here’s me
turning over a leaf. There’s aphids in it, and you can actually see,
there’s my finger. In relationship to the finger, it just looks like a little
small a little small alligator, and it’s got an aphid in its mouth and it’s
actually going to suck that aphid dry and then throw its carcass down. Or, like
in the previous slide, it’s probably going… might, actually… you know keep that
carcass around. I don’t see any ants though, but
what a great adaption. So you can actually, and oh, I see and hear garden
speakers all the time talk about releasing green lace wings in their
garden, especially if you had a huge aphid infestation on, let’s say you had a
tree and it was this really bad aphid infestation one year, and you know the
next year you know if you had one before you’re probably going to have another
one, and you wanted to go ahead and buy some green lace wings
eggs off the internet, very cheap, just put them near the ground. They’ll
eventually crawl up and look for their look for their their prey can actually
work. So, and one of the things that is that they’re probably not going to fly
away, they’re just gonna crawl and look for their prey. But the one thing
about beneficial insects that we did, Heather and I both learned in the
greenhouse, was that it will… it is not is not a 100% cure. And what we had to do is we
had to find the populations early on. If you have so many aphids that
there you’re dripping honeydew on your car, this is gonna help but it’s not
going to take control of the whole infestation. You would probably have to
spray an insecticidal soap or some biological chemical that’s labeled for
aphids on that particular tree before you were to actually do a release.
What I love about this is that… I love insects. My favorite thing
about the insects is how they’ve adapted, the SIMPLE ways they’ve adapted. This
is green lacewing egg and I see these all the time in the garden and I think
most of you gardeners are going to say the same thing. You’re gonna say “I’ve
seen this white egg with a stalk.” And sometimes it’s single and sometimes
they’re together like this. And so why would you put your egg on a stalk?
It prevents cannibalism from the other larvae, or perhaps ants. They don’t
know for sure, but definitely to keep them up so nobody’s gonna try to eat the
egg. So what a cool thing! Then you have your green lacewing on the right. I see
these all the time in the garden feeding on pollen and nectar and sometimes they
feed on that honeydew. They have these beautiful kind of golden iridescent type
of eyes, green bodies, and most are active at night and have really delicate wings.
But, you know, if you don’t have in your garden the nectar and the pollen and the
honeydew, you’re probably not going to have the benefits of an aphid lion. So
know that when you’re trying to foster beneficial insects that you want to
foster all the lifecycle. You want to make sure the mom has something to eat,
and the babies have something to eat. I guess that just goes to show you that
you probably need to plant more flowers. Okay, now this is a different one. It’s
called an aphid parasitoid, and there are tons of parasitoids out there.
They’re everywhere, we just don’t see them because they’re
so small. I mean, look at how small this parasitoid is in relationship to the
aphid. And you know so they’re everywhere. Now, these are perfectly… they’re totally…
excuse me…. incapable of causing any human or animal any
harm. But they are extremely good beneficial insects because what they do
is they lay their egg in the aphid. They pierce the skin with their ovipositor.
And you see how she just really quickly pierces the skin. Now the aphid doesn’t
really do anything because it’s like I said before, they’re big and dumb, and it’s done. Once she does that, and it’s
really fast action, just… she’s got him. And she will go through and she’ll
parasitize hundreds in a matter of a few days. How do you know that you have a
parasitized aphid? You usually don’t know right away. What
happens is the larva, in a couple of days, after the egg has been inserted, the
larva starts to eat, and it looks like a grub, the inside of the aphid from the
inside out. Then what it does is it fixes that aphid
carcass to the leaf and begins to pupate. Now you’ll see those big, larger… they’re
kind of fatter, wider they’re called mummies, they look like
paper. Now those are the parasitic wasps that are actually pupating. Now if you
look closely, there’s a couple of really fat aphids in there, and they look like
they’re about to blow up. Those are probably… have already been parasitized
and the the larva is eating the inside of the aphid… eating it from
the inside out. So, however menacing, when you have an
aphid infestation and you turn them over and you see these lovely paper mummies,
you know that Nature has already taken care of this problem for you,
because after they’ve pupated, at the very end by the cornicles, which I
call the “pooper chutes” — I know not the most professional word to use — but
they’re the two little protrusions off the end, they actually secrete the
honeydew. You’ll see a little dot. None of these have hatched yet. You’ll
see a little dot and that’s where the actual new parasitic wasp has emerged.
Now that parasitic wasp is going to take care of the rest of the population for
you, no problem. Just one female. So you definitely don’t want to spray this
plant you don’t want to do anything to this plant you don’t want to knock those
off. You don’t want to do anything, just let nature take its course.
And the adults… what are the adults feeding on? The adults like plants like anise or
dill or parsley or mustard or little clovers. So again if you don’t have what
the adult needs you’re not going to have the benefits of her laying the eggs in
your aphids. Here’s another picture, just turned over a leaf, I think that’s a
cabbage, and you see all those little green aphids in there. But you see right
away you see there’s quite a few of big puffed out mummy aphids, and
you know I don’t have to do anything because I have aphid parasitoids taking
care of the problem for me. The next one is Hover fly. I absolutely love the
Hover fly–LOVE the Hoover fly–probably close to one of my favorite insects. I
call him the great pollinator because he is a really wonderful pollinator, and if you look at a flower right now, go to a garden, you will probably see
tons of Hover flies. I feel like this right now is their peak
season. You also call them sweat bees. So every time I’m at a fair and
there’s this little insect trying to eat my sweat, and they do, it’s this guy. He’s
not gonna sting you. He’s a fly. He mimics bees, and you know that because if you see…
you look closely, you see two–ehh–one one set of wings. Beautiful. Then you see
these two little small protrusions behind them. Those are called halteres,
and that tells you that this guy is a fly, not a bee. And so he’s really
shiny. I always say “shiny and two wings” is a fly, and “fuzzy and four wings” is a bee.
Clearly, some of those wasps are not fuzzy, but they have four wings. And
so this guy, even though he drinks your sweat, will never ever sting you because
he’s incapable of it. He feeds on nectar and pollen. The reason they’re called a
hover fly is because they can hover over and they can fly backwards and fly
sideways and fly forwards, so it’s really kind of cool what they do. And so like I
said, I don’t even have to do give you a plant list because these guys are
everywhere. You go to be one of your favorite garden spots or even go out in
your backyard. You have a lot of flowers? You’re gonna find them. Again, especially
right now so they’re extremely important pollinators. Not only are they
important pollinators, but their larva are extremely good beneficial insects.
This is a picture on the left that was graciously given to me by one of my
Master Gardeners, Margaret ________ , a beautiful image she gave me. This is a
great big aphid eating maggot. It is kind of yellowish or greenish, legless, and
blind. The mouth seizes it’s prey and sucks it dry. Most of time, you
don’t always see these guys because they tend to stay at the base of the plant
during the day, but every now and then when you turn over a leaf, which if you
ever want to really look for insects, you got to turn the leaves over, and that
that’s when you really find what you’re looking for. And you see here in the
right picture, I have turned over a leaf and right there I see two
Hoover fly larvae maggots helping the aphid population on this plant. They’ll
actually go for scale thrips, aphids, and they overwinter as larvae in leaf litter. So
you know… you know… I know this is beneficial insects but when I also talk
about pollinators and butterflies, and we’re starting to find that that a
lot of these insects are overwintering in our leaf litter. And so when we sit
here in the fall and we decide we’re going to clean it up and make it look
perfectly pristine, we’re actually doing the wrong thing when it comes to insects,
beneficial insects, pollinators, and butterflies. You know the only reason
that you would really need to clean up your garden debris in the fall is if you
had a disease or a bad insect infestation. So otherwise if it’s, you
know, you know, like, your rudbeckia just let them let them be and don’t cut them
back until the spring. I know that might be a change in the way you garden,
but it’ll help some of the overwintering pollinators, butterflies, and beneficial
insects. Okay, so I digress. Let me go back to the
hoverfly, make sure I say everything. I love this guy! I mean I think he’s so
cool, and he just like in seven to ten days, this guy can eat hundreds of aphids. So you wouldn’t necessarily always unless you you know get lucky and turn
over a leaf and you see them right there, know you have this guy, but you know what
the adult looks like. And so if you have the adult and you have aphids in your
garden, you are probably are getting the benefit from this aphid eating maggot.
We’re gonna go to ladybugs. You would not believe how many people I can show an
image of a ladybug larva, and they do not know that it’s a ladybug.
Fine. Sure. Sometimes they look black at first. They actually go through several
different instars throughout their larva life stage. Some of them look
you know black at first, and then they turn colors. And you see just in these
two larvae, how different they are. This guy just as common for me I find
this guy just as much as I find the aphid lion or just as much as I find the
hoverfly larvae. Again, I’m usually turning over insects… insects?… turning
over leaves looking for them. They will eat their favorite preferred food is aphids,
but again it’s another… it’s a small bodied… small bodied insect, and so on
this right picture you actually see two of the life stages. You see a ladybug
larva, that it’s probably close to its its final size, and then next to it you see a
ladybug pupa. Now this is going to… yes… it’s going to turn into what you
think a ladybug looks like. Now, you know how most of the time I talked about how
ladybugs… usually it’s the larva that eats the meat, and the adults eat the
pollen and nectar, or say, the honeydew, well this one the adult acts as a
beneficial insect too and will eat the aphids, but actually the larvae is much
more of a voracious eater. This is a gorgeous picture from Alex Wilde again,
that shows a ladybug larva and he looks like the lion or the alligator.
It’s sucking the juices dry of an aphid. You, actually, on the right, you see aphid
cast skins, which are you know when an aphid goes through its instars, it releases its
skin so that’s what when you see those little white things everywhere that’s
the skin, and then on the left you actually see aphids that have already
been parasitized by wasps so again now you see really why I love going to a
garden and finding an infestation of aphids because it normally means I’m
gonna find a lot of insects. A lot of beneficial insects. So even though we
hate these Asian lady beetles in our winter homes, they are beneficial too. And they were actually released for soybean
aphids, and they’re from Asia so they don’t have… they’re they’re used to
overwintering in the cliffs, and so since we don’t have very many cliffs in
Illinois… or even ANY… I don’t know for sure, the closest thing is your house and so that’s why they go in there. Yeah, I know
they stink, and sometimes bite, just go ahead and work on your… exclusion is really one of your only remedies for Asian lady
beetles that come in your house. The good thing is is they’re not going to
reproduce in your house but they… they’re they’re good insects, even though we
don’t like them in our house. Next one. This one is perfect. I could not have
more perfect timing for the cicada killer because it’s really… they
start to come out when the cicadas begin to sing, so that should be late July
early August, so they’re really quite a menacing looking wasp. This picture on
the right is from a Master Naturalist named Deanna _______ she’s a wonderful
photo taker and she … she is showing one, a female, taking a cicada back to her
nest. So what she does is she paralyzes the cicada she’s taking the cicada back
to a ground nest she she uses tools or even her mouth to dig a nest in the
ground then what she does is she puts the paralyzed cicada in there, lays a
couple of eggs on it… she might even put a couple more paralyze cicadas in
the bottom. And then she’ll chamber off that particular egg-laying part and then
she’ll keep doing the same thing over and over. So she’s going back, getting the
cicadas parasitizing them, taking them to the nest, laying an egg on him to make
sure her babies have food they need. Now she doesn’t eat the cicadas she eats
pollen and nectar and you guys know this because you see her and the spider
killer which are those big black ones constantly … they’re amazing pollinators. They’re constantly pollinating flowers. Well, some people are scared of the
cicada killers because they will come up to you. Now, it’s only the male that will
come up to you, and the male is completely unable to sting. The only
reason he’s coming up to you is he’s making sure that you’re not another male.
Now SHE can sting, but the only reason that she would do that…
she’s not gonna do that just to sting. She’s gonna do that if
you’ve perhaps handled her or disturbed her nest. Now, they like to excavate their
nest in open ground so if you truly don’t want this person this is this guy
there, which you know maybe you have a child or maybe you have a dog and that’s
not something you want in your yard, you need to make sure you don’t have open
ground. But if you like the benefit of beneficial insects, it goes to show you,
that it seems like when we talk Hort, we’re always like “oh,
do this. No, don’t do this” so you know we always talk about the benefits of mulch,
but you think about the mulch actually inhibits ground nesting bees and ground
nesting wasps, so if that’s something that you are, you know,
cool with, which I am, I love ground nesting bees, I’m going to
allow patches… open patches in my lawn or an open patch near my
perennial bed. So again, the males, they look very menacing and if they’ve
approached you, they can’t sting you they’re not going
to do anything so there’s no reason to run away, and they’re amazing beneficial
insects. And actually my most amazing part… the thing that I think this
most amazing thing about the cicada killer is that it’s able to use tools
like rocks to dig and to pat down, or use its head. What a cool adaption. And
then I like to make fun of the fact that the man the male of the species
doesn’t get to sting but he’s you know all puffing out his chest and comes and
gets in your face, but again, not as menacing as you think, but you would not
believe how many people bring in these guys and want to know what they are. My
next one is one that we definitely released in the greenhouse
and I see all the time. It’s called a minute pirate bug. Some people call them
no-see-ems, which is not right. It’s inaccurate. just like some people call the
hoverfly ‘sweat bees.’ These guys are… if I tell
you, you’re gonna know exactly what they are. When they start harvesting,
and it’s it bites you, and it’s kind of like a mosquito, but it
bites you, and it’ll leave behind a welt, and it’s usually around the fall, this is
what this guy is, this is a minute pirate bug. Now, again, yes he is biting you. He’s
probing. He’s got one one stylet mouth part, and he’s just probing you so he’s
not, like, he doesn’t have teeth, he’s not biting you, he’s just probing you. And it
does leave behind a rather nasty mark, so I agree that, you know, I
hate it when they come out and they’re in a really big abundance, but they are
ferocious when it comes to eating any insect pests that you have. Now one
of the things that we had problems with is we didn’t have a lot of insect…
beneficial insects that we could release for thrips. I mean we had tons for spider
mites and aphids and mealy bugs, but thrips, you know, this this
the one we did, and he was, like I said, voracious. I mean, just would eat them up.
And what we would do is we would actually go out and aspirate them, which
means I had a little glass jar and I’d suck them up into the glass jar and come
back and release them in my house, but we did actually release them… would order
them off the internet and release them too. Now, not the best insect to maybe release in your garden because guess
what, they’re gonna fly away. But in the greenhouse was pretty appropriate. You
see, that’s not my nail because it actually has kind of beautiful nails,
that’s Heather’s nail, and what has come, it’s in a liter container with some
coco hulls, and there’s adult… my new pirate bugs in there. And she’s just
going to go around and sprinkle those coco hulls around her room, and they’re
going to give her some control of thrips. And thrips, if you ever go up to a flower,
and you blow on it or you dump the flower in your hand you’ll see these
little tiny insects running around. Well they eat pollen and they’re bad when you
want seeds, and when you do research on soybeans, you always want seeds. It’s always about the genetics. So these were actually a
wonderful tool for us. But if you see them in your backyard, you know, it’s
not something you should be totally worried about. Yes, I know they’re they
can be menacing to us but they’re actually really good insects and they’re
going to eat up whatever pests you have. You see at the right picture you
actually have a larva a… a nymph, excuse me… this one goes through… no it goes
through complete a larva, yes. White Line Sphinx Moth. I always put this in
there because I actually just had a Master Gardener say “this
caterpillar just ate up all my pentas” and it was a Sphynx moth. It was a
horn worm and it was at a butterfly garden, so you know I was like “don’t kill
it, just let it eat them,” and she was like “Okay. No problem.”
But I’ve seen this one eat Sun drops a lot and it actually is supposed to eat, you
know, in the literature is always like apples and pears and it’s not really
that huge of an insect pest, but it’s a really colorful insect. It actually turns
into a beneficial insect. Yes, I know I’m stretching when I say beneficial insect
because it’s a pollinator. And what is so beautiful about these white lines sphinx moth is they have these huge proboscis that will actually pollinate really
difficult to pollinate flowers. So I just wanted you to be able to see the larva
of this beautiful insect so you don’t kill it off. So if it eats all your Oenothera
or even your pentas, yeah it’s okay. Because eventually you’re helping
produce this beautiful white line Sphinx moth. Now these actually come out more in
the fall and they come out at dusk, so it will be like you’re seeing a
hummingbird because they’re unusual they’re unlike other butterflies and
moths in the fact that they really stay in flight when they’re feeding other
moths and butterflies land. So… it can really can be a beautiful sight. Another…
this white line sphinx moth is very common; another very common one is the
clear wings sphinx moth, and I just I… even though you’re supposed to see them
more towards dawn, and I do, I do see him in the day too, but I tend to not see
them until later in the summer. So be on the lookout for this guy. If you
don’t have fall-blooming stuff in your garden, then he’s probably not going to
be there, so make sure you have something blooming in your garden in the fall.
Here’s another transition. We have a horn worm that is a pest, and this is your
tomato hornworm or your tobacco hornworm. He turns into the five spotted hawk moth,
but it’s still a beautiful moth. Not quite as beautiful as the white line
Sphinx moth, but quite beautiful, and we have a… usually… you know these tomato
hornworms can be quite frustrating if you’re growing some tomatoes and you
come out and you see all… and you see like your plant looks kind of bare and
you go up there and you’re like “man something is eating all these leaves,” and
even though this thing is giant, it’s hard to see it sometimes. But it usually
isn’t until I see the white pupa on the back of the tomato hornworm that I
really see it. So, if you actually saw a tomato hornworm with these white pupa
sacks on them, then you know… I don’t have to spray because this is gonna take care
of it. So what happens is the the adult wasp lays her eggs on the tomato
hornworm. It either multiplies by 32 or 64, and the larva began to feast on the
blood of the hornworm. They’re gonna be careful in the beginning as not to touch
the vital organs because they want to grow to maturity, so they keep the host
alive. So they only eat the blood, then when they’re growing towards maturity
then they they will eat some of the organs, and eventually ultimately kill
the tomato hornworm. But the one thing that happens is once
it is parasitized, it does stop eating. These little parasitic wasp larvae are
inside the tomato hornworm. They have little saw-like teeth. They cut their way
out of the caterpillar and then they spin little silken cocoons and that’s
what you, see you see the pupa. I always… we always… everybody always… mistakes these
for eggs. These are not eggs. These are the pupal sacks. And you know you have
future pest control. You would never want to take this off or…. just let it stay.
Eventually it’ll go away and dry up and a bird may eat it, but it just goes to
show you something that’s a horrible pest, especially if you would like your
garden fresh tomatoes, actually turns into a beautiful insect. We have praying
mantis. We know that praying mantis don’t care what they eat. They’ll eat your bees,
your wasp, your flies, but I always say they’re a really good indication of a
healthy garden. Now, we have a Master Gardener here named Ellen _____ who
decided to send us some pictures of these beautiful ootheca. Yes, I said
“ootheca,” because that’s what they are. They’re egg cases. They have masses of
eggs in there which, they’ve hardened, and that is how they overwinter. In the
spring this ootheca will come alive and there will be thousands of tiny baby
praying mantises. And they’ll start coming out and running, and you know
they’ll eat looking for food, and they’ll eat each other if they have to because
praying mantises will eat whatever it can get its hands on, or its little…
clasping… front… legs… and it does chew. I’ve actually seen them
catch a bee and take it down in, like you know, seconds. But they do go for bees
and wasps and flies. It is a incomplete metamorphosis, so they look like tiny
praying mantises and they just keep growing old. This one’s a Chinese
praying mantis. This is not from here, but still it’s the one that’s big, green. It
has a hard wing on the top. It will fly if it…mostly if it’s a
male, or if it’s completely disturbed. It will raise up, but most of the time they
are waiting, still, for their prey. The next one is a Carolina praying mantis. Much smaller, but not quite as green, but I see it all the
time around here. You see the ootheca is completely different. It’s like
flattened, rather than this big bulbous. And it just goes to show you again, you
know, where you cut… let’s say you were cutting back your and that this previous
picture was Ellen, was waiting till the spring to cut back some of her shrubs,
and so once she saw this she knew “oh, I have beneficial insects, we’ll wait a
little bit more.” And so she knew that she wanted to keep these praying mantises in
their garden because they would get rid of some of the bad bugs for her. So when
she went to cut back in the spring, she decided to wait a little bit longer for
this one because she knew she had the oothecas. Another thing she could have
done, which she might have done this, is just cut it from the plant and kept it
somewhere in the garden. It doesn’t have to be attached to a living plant for
them to still hatch and still be beneficial for her garden. And then this is this is the one that…
it’s called the damsel bug. I actually said for this one, I was like, “I saw it in a
book” and this was, you know, when I first started this career six years ago I had
never seen it before in my life. And I said “I’m…” and you can tell why I’ve never
seen it before, because it’s awfully small and inconspicuous, and I saw it
in a book, a Phil Nixon book. Phil Nixon… one of his cards, and I said “I am
bounded determined to find to find this insect.” And it took me a while, but I did
actually… I see it’s on the zinnia on the left. But actually, on the right I
found it on snapdragons. Now if you look lower, below the the bottom-most flower,
there’s squash bugs eggs on there, and they were actually eating those eggs. Now,
I wish they would do a better job of eating squash bug eggs, but it was really
cool to see them there and I just really really had to scout the garden. Again,
they’re gonna eat things that are smaller than them, and they’re pretty
dainty. I’ve seen them on an aphid-infested nicotiana before–flowering tobacco–but they’re not my most common things to see. And again,
you see why, because they’re so small. But again, I was bound and determined to find
them. I found them, and they are really good insects. They actually fly too, so I
challenge you to go out and find some damsel bugs. Assassin bugs are great. This is one of the one of the wonderful things in the industry, is potato growers
have decided to use beneficial insects. And, you know, beneficial insects, even
though they’ve been around for a while, especially with greenhouses and
nurseries. And we’re starting to really really get into using them.
We still haven’t like completely adopted the practice, but potato growers are
growing them because what we have here is we have Colorado potato beetle. And
it’s a larva, and you know, they’re getting a lot of pesticide resistance
with Colorado potato beetle. So they are finding that if they have, you know, a
proper environment for assassin bugs, the assassin bugs will actually come and
take care of the larva for them. Now, it… this is a nymph of an assassin bug it’s
not a complete adult. They usually have bright colors, and what they’re doing is
they’re advertising that they are going to have a painful bite. Yes, this one’s
probably going to bite you if you were to pick it up and handle it. But can you
imagine the damage that it’s going to do to all these Colorado potato beetle
larvae? So, what a cool… if see these guys, you never want to stomp on them. You never…
they really like ground covers. I usually see them more near native vegetation.
Wonderful! Spiders! Spiders are so awesome. I mean, have you had a person go have you
had people tell you that you’ve gotten spider bites, or you wake up with the
mysterious bite of something, and it’s a spider? Well an educated person knows that… it’s probably not a spider. It’s
probably something else. It’s probably an allergy, and being a horticulturist I
don’t know for sure, but I put in here unless you’re sleeping on the basement
floor, a spider might wander onto your bed as
often as twice a year, but not every night. So if you take certain precautions
like don’t sleep in the basement, or have your blankets not touch the floor, you are
never going to come into contact with a spider. Even if it does, it’s usually not
going to bite you. They have no reason to bite a human. They are not bloodsuckers.
And in fact they’re probably not even aware of your existence, so they’re
wonderful. I love having spiders. I like them in my
garage, and in my basement. It’s cool they’re eating the bad bugs. They are, you know,
great predators for your garden, so we don’t have to all hate spiders. Now, I did
a spider presentation for Master Gardener, coordinators and they helped me
find this one colorful handout on the top. It’s wonderful to be able to
identify more spiders. I have to go back to Phil Nixon. The Good Guys! Natural
Enemies… these cards are amazing. You probably already have them in your
Master Gardener office, but… or if you don’t, go to pubs plus and get these.
They’re laminated cards you can put them in your garden thing, and you can
just flip through them. They’re amazing pictures, great information, really tells
you when you can go “oh, is that a good guy or a bad guy?” It’s wonderful. I
did, you know, take a lot of photos from some friends, and so I wanted to give
them some photo resources. I love Whitney Crenshaw. He is my favorite author when
it comes to insects. And I used these two books every week.
I know it’s I know I’m a horticulture educator, and I do do a lot of stuff with
insects, but I love just being able to look up more about a particular insect.
So there are these are Garden Insects of North America, and Bugs Rule. They should
either be in your Master Gardener library, or if you’re really big into
insects and want to teach, they should be in your
personal library. I have a blog called Flowers, Fruits, & Frass. You don’t have
to ask me what frass means, because it means insect poop, right? And great
alliteration so I like to talk about insects clearly and some of the stuff
that’s happening in my unit, and you know, I release other things all the time, so
if you’re at all interested, go check out my blog. And with that do I have any
questions? Awwww.. speakers always get disappointed when you don’t ask them a question. Somebody can ask me a question. Well. that’s okay
you can always… Oh! Go ahead Champaign! Type it in! But you can always email me if you have a question on insects. I know I was on vacation last week and got have
a few questions that I haven’t answered yet, so if that’s you please be patient. I
just haven’t gotten around to it. Martha, am I am I not hearing? Oh. Okay.
Am I not hearing the question? [READING]: “Has the wasp already laid eggs in the hornworm before I see it?” Most likely. Most likely. Especially if it’s kind of lethargic, but
I usually don’t see it until the pupae come out so, it takes probably about two
days after the egg is laid before the larvae begin to feed, and about seven
days for the larvae to feed, so it could be that nine days before. But if they’re
not aggressively eating, they’ve probably been parasitized. So there’s several
several kinds of hunt of hummingbird moths. I think I just looked it up… let me
look it up really quick… I think there were like 1,700 species, so yeah. And just
because I talked about the two most common, it’s kind of crazy that I talk
about two when there’s thousands of species. Let me see what did it say… it
said… it must have been a different book. But my bugs rule book, it talks about a
few of them, but it doesn’t tell me how many species they are there are but I
would just assume there’s several hundred species. I am pleased with the
caterpillars on my parsley for butterfly can this parsley be consumed after
caterpillars no longer present? I do not see why not. Because you know…
I don’t know… well… I… I make fun of parsley all the time because
it’s not the best herb in the world. I don’t love it. I only grow it
for the black Swallowtail caterpillars, but once they’re gone,
you’re fine. [READING] “What are the benefits of daddy-longlegs? I tend to see them in the
house.” Well… daddy longlegs, you know, it’s like I have pet roaches and everybody
asked me “why do we need roaches?” Well, I bet you something parasitizes… there’s
some parasitic wasp out there that parasitizes daddy longlegs, but I do not
know specifically what their benefit is. I’m sure they are wonderful to have in
the house. [READING] “Is a walking stick bug a good bug or a bad bug?” I wouldn’t consider it
either. It eats leaves on plants, so then it lays its eggs, and when it what’s cool
about walking sticks is when they lay their eggs, they lay a sticky appendage
onto the eggs. That way, the ants on the ground will actually carry the eggs
around. So, you know, I would just consider them really cool insects. So, you know,
I’ve never ever had somebody come to me and, you know, again, I’ve not been an
entomologist for as long as Phil Nixon has… or even have his credentials! But,
I’ve never heard of anybody say I have a walking stick bug infestation. And
usually they’re quite rare to find, but supposedly you can lay a white cloth
underneath a tree and if you beat the tree they’ll fall off. And they eat
vegetation. I think they’re really cool. I actually want one as a pet. [READING]: “Living in your limestone walls… very cool to watch
them dragging and stuffing in cicada…” I am so happy that you’re happy about the
cicada killers, because you would not believe how many questions come into our
Master Gardener help desk “well… what what can I spray on them?” And
I’m like “ohhh… nothing… I’m not telling you.” Hey, you know, when you have the
ground bees too, nobody wants to ground bees, but they’re really cool to watch. And
ehh… so they mess up your lawn, who cares? Sorry Richard. Yeah, so what I would do is you know when I look for beneficial insects, is I turn
over leaves. I really inspect. I look for poop. I know. I look for frass, and
that can really tell you a lot about looking in your garden. I look for holes.
Any damage. I turn it over, and really inspect it. I’m glad you guys
are already seeing all of this stuff. [READING] “Is diatomaceous earth a good insecticide?” It depends. If you have a pet, no. And it depends what you’re actually using it
for. I don’t think it’s efficient on some things. I definitely would read the label,
and do exactly what it says. And you know something else, you need to be careful
with YOU, because you can inhale it, and it can cause damage to you. So, even
though it is a beneficial or biological pesticide, or considered safe organic,
it’s still can damage you, or pets. So if I … I just want you to take
that caution. But it can be a very efficient tool, especially for slugs. I would love to do, and you know Kerry
and Martha and Candace may take me up on it, a presentation on biological
pesticides to show you some alternatives. I just don’t know how you know glamorous
that title would be, but it would be kind of cool to teach you know root gardeners “hey, you don’t always have to use the carbamates and the
organophosphates. There are other alternatives.” [READING] “Is there any bug that will reduce Japanese beetle population…” HAHAHA HEHEHE. You know, they talk about Cardinals eating Japanese beetles all the time, but you know you’d think you’d have like an
influx and Cardinal activity, but you know, I’m sure… there’s… might be some… I
don’t know. I’d have to say I don’t know on that. But what a great question! Like,
cardinals, chickens, bats, but is there a bug? I’m not totally for sure. There might
be something that tries to parasitize it in the ground, but I’m not totally for
sure. That’s just a guess. But have you noticed that… I don’t know if this is for
all over the state that… we have not had the Japanese beetle pressure here
this year that we had last year. And I know that it did freeze. The
ground was frozen down pretty deep here in McLean, and even
Livingston and Woodford, but I’ve… I’ve just wondered if that was all over the
state. I guess it’s not! I knew there would be hot pockets. I knew it was too
good to be true. I’m sorry for your raspberries. Okay, well,
I’m going to go ahead and log off. I’m already five minutes over. And if you
know me, I want to be on time and done, because I don’t want to sit here and
talk for an hour and 40 minutes. So, with that, if you have any more questions
please, please, email me. My name is Kelly Allsup. I will probably do another
PowerPoint presentation next year. Thank You Martha, Kari, and Candice for all of your hard work in helping put together this
awesome program.

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