Tag Archives: insects

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: Ladybug / Ladybird Beetle.

ladybug-larvaeOrder: Coleoptera. Family: Coccinellidae

Average Size: 1/8″ to5/8″.

Something not many people know, even avid gardeners, is that ladybugs come in different colors and do not always have spots. They can also be brown, black, yellow, gray and orange besides their common red color with black spots.

The larvae of the ladybug looks nothing like the adult. They are more alligator-shaped and do not have a smooth shell, but once you spot one, you will remember what they look like. They are usually dark brown to black and have a 2 distinctive red bands on their back. They are voracious eaters of aphids, so learning to recognize them and protect them is a plus.

The adults like tall grasses, so it’s not always advantageous to cut every bit of grass in your yard. They also like borage, tansy, geranium and angelica.

Ladybugs purchased from garden suppliers don’t always stay where you want them and will usually fly away, but here are a few tips to try to make them stay put:
– Release them just before sunup or just after dusk.
– Lay them gently at the base of aphid-infested plants.
– Spray plants with water just before releasing them.

Photo: Adult ladybug and larvae chasing some aphids on the leaf.

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Related to dragonflies, obviously, Damselflies are weak fliers and will stick close to water so if you have a backyard pond, water garden or live close to a lake you may see them. They will eat almost any insect and are very adept at picking aphids off plants. They lay their eggs in water, so if you want to keep them around, consider a backyard pond close to your garden.