Identifying Non-Harmful and Beneficial Insects in the Urban Landscape

Identifying Non-Harmful and Beneficial Insects in the Urban Landscape


So when you’re scouting your plants
looking for pests, one of the very most important things is to make sure of what
the pest is – even if it is a pest. So here’s a great example. This is a
beautiful crepe myrtle tree, gorgeous form and we know that crepe myrtles
can have some pests. Now as I was walking by, I noticed a
large collection of insects right here on the bottom. Most people are not born insect lovers
like entomologists are and would be upset by seeing this on their plant, but
what we know is that only about 1% of insects in the landscape actually do
damage. The rest of them are either beneficial or indifferent. They’re just
there in the landscape doing their own thing. These insects actually are Bibionidaes, they’re love bugs which, if you’re from Florida you know that they can be a real
pest as far as your car paint goes but these do not do any damage to the plant. They’re just there. They might irritate
you. If they get in your way you may want to
control them but as far as this crepe myrtle tree, they’re not doing it any harm. When we
think about controlling pests, pesticides are actually not one of the
first things I typically think about and what we see specifically in people’s
landscapes is that the more diverse the landscape is in terms of plant variety,
time of bloom, you have multiple bloom times throughout the year and height and
structure plants, the more beneficial insects we find
which keeps the pest population lower. For example, this tree right here has very tiny, small flowers on it that
provide a wonderful nectar source that pollinators and other beneficial insects
use to help keep them alive when they’re not busy eating our pests. So you can see here in this landscape we
have multiple different structures, leaf forms, as well as blooms that are of
different sizes and different types. So planting a diverse landscape can be
beneficial in terms of keeping the natural populations in balance. The goal with a landscape is not to keep
it completely pest-free or insect free. In fact, the whole goal is actually to
keep a small population of insects for the beneficials to eat so that they’ll
stick around and do a good job for you in maintaining your your plants. So a good example of this is lady
beetles. We all love lady beetles right? They’re one
of the most widely recognized beneficial insects in the landscape; however, as I mentioned about being able
to recognize the difference between a good insect and one that’s causing harm
to your plant is very important. For example right here this is actually a
lady beetle larvae. This is a beneficial insect in the
landscape and we found her walking around on this fothergilla leaf, eating a
few aphids that are on there. Most people would not recognize this as
our beloved lady beetle and might actually think of it as a pest when in
reality, this little alligator looking creature is actually walking around
eating aphids and keeping our plants healthy. Another thing that you might see in the
landscape in regards to lady beetles is right here is a pupil skin and you can
see the adult lady beetle. We have the larvae which then turns into
this pupa which somebody might be a mistake it for a scale insect or some
other kind of pest and it turns in to the lady beetle that we know that is a
fantastic predator of aphids and other insects on our plants. So often we talk
about insects or pests in the landscape, we think in terms of good bugs vs bad bugs
and when we say that, what do we really mean? Most people –
here’s a a spider in this landscape, would normally think of this as a bad
bug, but actually spiders are one of the top ten beneficial insects in any
landscape anywhere. They’re excellent predators of other
insects and kind of go quietly doing their job. As long as they’re not in the
house, most people don’t mind them in the
landscape.

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