The onset of an insect infestation in you garden can result in a sudden outburst of curses and other expletives. But don’t let your mouth turn dirty on you, let Mother Nature kill those plant-devouring buggers.
We’ve spent much time exploring bad bugs that leave destruction in their wake, but haven’t paid as much attention to those that destroy them. So starting with ladybugs and pirate bugs, here is a sampling of predatory pests that help when your plants are most in need:
Ladybugs: Not just a sign of good luck, these little lady beetles are one of the best predatory creatures to have combing your garden. They love eating pests like aphids, mealybugs, scale bugs and mites and there’s no such thing as too many ladybugs. Plus they’re kinda cute.
It’s best to store them in a refrigerator or other cool area, between 35 and 40 degrees, and wait to release them during the early evening. These hungry lady beetles have great appetites and eat insects in both adult and larvae stages. Stunningly, an adult ladybug can consume about 5,000 aphids during its lifetime.
As with any predatory bug, make sure to not spray plants with pesticides after releasing and about a month prior. And be patient with these guys and girls — they are most effective when released early in the pest cycle.
Pirate Bugs: Best known for their sharp, needle-like beak and ability to suck prey dry, these bad boys and girls feed on spider mites, aphids, thrips, whiteflies, small caterpillars and insect eggs.
While best to release them immediately upon your plants, pirate bugs can be stored between 50 and 60 degrees for a day. They can be combined with thrip-eating predator mites; the combination is ideal for stubborn thrip infestations.