Put Out the Welcome Mat for These Bugs

Gardening

Learn which bugs are beneficial to your landscape and don’t try to get rid of them. Good bugs eat pests, control mosquitoes, pollinate flowers, and produce silk, wax, and honey. In this blog, we list eight beneficial bugs (plus spiders) you should know.

If you’re new to gardening, it may come as a surprise to learn that certain species of Florida bugs are great to have around. They’re known as beneficial bugs because they help plants, trees, and lawns.

Some beneficial bugs eat harmful insects. Others pollinate crops and produce substances like silk, wax, and honey.

In this blog, we look at Florida bugs that you should welcome to your yard.

Ladybugs and Lady Beetles

Ladybugs and Lady Beetles are usually dark with bright spots or bright with dark spots. Their dominant color is often red or orange. They’re round and about ¼ inch long. Adults and larvae alike make meals out of pests such as aphids, mealybugs, mites, scale insects, and other soft-bodied bugs. They also eat insect eggs. As larvae, Lady Beetles will consume 200-500 aphids, and the adult form will eat even more. Ladybugs and Lady Beetles can be purchased inexpensively online.

Monarch Butterflies

Widely recognized by its distinctive orange, black, and white markings, the monarch is a migratory butterfly that sometimes lives year-round in South Florida. Adult monarchs pollinate many perennial flowers and have a preference for milkweed.

Bees

Bees are the most well known and most important of the insects that pollinate plants. In Florida, native honeybee colonies have been reduced by diseases and mites. Fortunately, ground-dwelling bumblebees are also able to pollinate plants.

Hover Flies

Also called the flower or syrphid fly, the hoverfly is a little colorful insect often mistaken for a fruit fly. Hoverfly larvae eat aphids that feed on important crops such as grains, corn, alfalfa, and cotton. They also eat aphids on wild plants, ornamentals, subtropical fruit trees, and citrus trees.

Dragonflies

Dragonflies help control mosquito populations and other flying insects. Dragonfly nymphs eat mosquito larvae, preventing the maturing of the larvae into adult mosquitoes.

Big-Eyed Bugs

Yes, this is its real name. The Big-Eyed Bug is only 1/8th of an inch long. It looks like a chinch bug with oversized eyes. It feasts on small caterpillars, soft-bodied insects, and chinch bugs.

Spiders

Only a few spiders, including the brown recluse and the widow, are dangerous to humans. Most species are helpful plant and lawn inhabitants because they eat harmful insects and caterpillars. Some spiders catch flying and wandering pests in their webs. Other spiders, such as green lynx and jumping spiders, stalk their prey and grab them or pounce on them.

Earwigs

This kind of beneficial bug helps keep in check lawn-dwelling pest populations of chinch bugs, sod webworms, and small mole crickets. Earwigs grow up to an inch long. They are heavy eaters, consuming up to 50 chinch bugs every day.

Lacewings

Lacewings have delicate, nearly transparent long wings. They are an entirely green insect except for their orange eyes. At ¾ inch long, they live on weeds, row crops, and shrubs. Their larvae eat aphids, insect eggs, and small insects.

Thanks to the Florida Entomological Society and the Sarasota UF/IFAS Extension for information used in this blog. Visit these sites to learn more about beneficial bugs.

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