Tag Archives: beneficial bugs

Beneficial Bugs: Ichneumon Wasp

ichneumonOrder: Hymenoptera. Family: Ichneumonidae

These wasps have thread-like waists and very long antennae. They vary greatly in color from red and orange to many shades of brown and some have stripes and some not. There are over 3,300 known species in North America alone.

The larvae take up residence in caterpillars and sometimes spiders. The larvae then develops inside the host feeding on it and killing it.

Adults drink nectar and water, so to encourage them to stay, plant umbrella-shaped flowers such as tansy and lovage. They also prefer higher humidity. They range in size from 1/8 inch to 1 5/8 inch.

Beneficial Insects: Braconid Wasp

braconid-wasp_eggsBraconid Wasp
Order: Hymenoptera. Family: Braconidae

Average Size: Very, very tiny. Only about 1/10 th to 1/2 th of an inch in size.

Resembling flying ants, these “good guys” are usually too small to be noticed. You may see their eggs on a host before you ever spot an adult braconid wasp.

They lay their eggs on other insects and the larvae feed on them as a host. They will parasitize such insects as tomato hornworms, armyworms, cabbage worms, codling moths, gypsy moths and caterpillars of many kinds.

When adults, they feed on nectar from small blossoms such as sweet alyssum and crocuses, so keeping these flowers around will help keep these beneficial pals around as well.

Photo: A tomato hornworm infested with braconid wasp eggs.

See our main gardening page, Garden Circkles, for much more information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on greenhouse growing, sustainable and organic tips, beneficial bugs, the latest techniques such as aquaponics and vertical growing and much more.

Beneficial Insects: Brown Lacewing.


Order: Neuroptera. Family: Hemerobiidae

Average Size: 3/8″ to 5/8″.

To camouflage themselves, the brown lacewing larvae sometimes carry debris – such as the remains of past meals on their backs which allows them to sneak up on prey while at the same time avoiding becoming bird food. This is what led to them also being called “trash carriers”.

Larvae eat aphids, mealybugs, nymphs of scale insects and other soft-bodied insects. Brown lacewings lay their eggs directly on leaves instead of on long filaments. Often found near or in forests and fields, adult brown lacewings have brown wings with a pattern that differentiates them from their cousins the green lacewing. The adults are also avid predators that keep plant-eating bugs under control.