beneficial insects

What is a beneficial insect?

For many people, aside from a gentle ladybug or butterfly, they find it hard to call insects beneficial. This results in a lot of squashing and unnecessary spraying. And even more important to understand, the squashing and spraying can cause harm to our environment and the fragile ecosystems around us.

In the big picture, most insects are beneficial in natural ecosystems.  But as we started to grows crops and have our ornamental gardens at home we discovered that certain insects compete with us for food, or feed on prized plants. These insects have been deemed pests.  There are several insects that prey on or parasitize these pest insects and these are called beneficial insects.
And so the lines have been drawn, pests and beneficial insects. Here are some of the most common beneficial insects to learn in your garden:

Praying Mantis
Green Lacewing

Parasitic Wasp (parasitizing aphid with ovipositor)

Ground Beetle
Lady Beetle (ladybug) larvae

Lady Beetle eggs

Soldier Beetle
Check with your local county or extension office for more information and handy identification cards and fans to use in the garden. 

As you will note in the photos above I have included not only the adult but also larvae and eggs. Many insects are the most beneficial at the larval stage (think of that hungry teenager growing).