Deer in Spring Landscape

Maryland's Wild Acres

Greening your Landscape - Beneficial Bugs

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Halictid bee pollinating a flower, photo by Kerry WixtedDid you know that over 95% of the insects aren’t pests? Some bugs help pollinate fruits and vegetables while others take care of common garden pests. By limiting pesticide use in your yard and by providing the right type of plants, you can encourage beneficial bugs to inhabit your backyard habitat which will reduce your need for pesticides.

Steps to Encouraging Beneficial Bugs

  1. Design your garden or backyard to have blooming plants throughout the spring, summer and fall to provide nectar and pollen.
  2. Provide a water source.
  3. Provide shelter such as leaf litter on the ground or groundcovers.
  4. Have patience and tolerate a few pests until beneficial insects establish.
  5. Identify pest problems before treating and choose treatments according to the pest.
  6. If not enough beneficial insects establish in your backyard, then purchase them from a local nursery or commercial insectary.
  7. Resist the urge to spray when you first see damage, and if spraying is necessary, consider using safer pesticides.


Least Toxic Pest Products
 

Problem

Active Ingredient

Lady Beetle photo by Kerry Wixted

 

Aphids Ladybugs
Caterpillars Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki
Fungal Problems Copper octonate
Extract of Neem oil
Potassium bicarbonate (85%)
Sulfur
General Insect Pests Capsaicin and related capsaicinoids
Extract of Neem oil
Fatty Acid Soap
Potassium salts of fatty acids
Predatory Fly (Robber fly) photo by Kerry Wixted
Lawn Pests
(Grubs and Fleas)
Cedar oil (2%)
Steinernema carpocapsae (Nematodes)
Mosquito Larvae Bacillus thuringiensis var. iseaeliensis (10%)
Snails and Slugs Iron phosphate (1%)
Note: While products like pyrethrum and rotenone are naturally-derived, they are broad spectrum insecticides which can kill both pests and beneficial insects. Therefore, it is best to use narrow spectrum insecticides when possible.

 

Common Beneficial Bugs

Insect

 Food

Attractants

Assassin Bug 
 
Beetles, caterpillars, other bugs Sunflowers Juvenile Assassin Bug photo by Kerry Wixted
Damsel Bugs
 
Caterpillar eggs, fleahoppers, leafhoppers and spider mites Clover
Damselflies & Dragonflies Mosquitoes, gnats and flying insects Open water, small ponds, open fields
 
Ground Beetles
 
Snails, slugs and root-feeding insects Stone pathways, clover & compost piles
Honey Bees Pollen and flower nectar Flowers such as asters & goldenrods
 
Lacewings Aphids, small caterpillars, whiteflies and thrips Nectar plants including geraniums Predatory Wasp (Pelecinid Wasp) photo by Kerry Wixted
Lady Bugs Aphids, scales, mites and soft-bodied pests Nectar plants including geraniums
Praying Mantis Other insects Flower & vegetable gardens
Predatory Flies Caterpillars, beetle larvae and sawflies Nectar plants
Predatory Wasps Other insects Pollen producing plants like fennel
Spiders Other insects Flower & vegetable gardens
Syrphid Flies Aphids, beetles, caterpillars and thrips Composites like dill, fennel and coreopsis
Wheel Bugs Caterpillars, moths, squash bugs, cucumber beetles Shrubs and trees

For Additional Information, Contact:

Kerry Wixted
Wildlife and Heritage Service
580 Taylor Ave, E-1
Annapolis, MD 21401
kerry.wixted@maryland.gov
Phone: 410-260-8566
Fax: 410-260-8596

Acknowledgements:

All photos by Kerry Wixted

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Write to Me!

Kerry Wixted
Natural Resources Biologist II
Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service
MD Dept of Natural Resources
580 Taylor Ave., E-1
Annapolis MD  21401

phone: 410-260-8566
fax: 410-260-8596
e-mail: kerry.wixted@maryland.gov

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