Pesticides: No, and Yes.

Someone asked me recently whether I used pesticides in my garden.

I don’t, and I do.

These are my pesticides: Birds, wasps, yellow jackets and hornets, tachinid flies, robber flies, snipe flies, syrphid flies, dragonflies and damselflies, lady bugs, ground and tiger beetles, and spiders and opiliones.

__________________________

Birds … just a few of my helpers:

phoebe
phoebe – I mean: so cute!
sparrow
song sparrow, many, hanging out in the garden all the time
hummingbird, which eats nectar and insects
hummingbird, which eats nectar and insects, is constant here
chickadee
chickadee – I think they remember I fed them seed this winter?

In spring, summer, and fall, and especially when nesting, insects, spiders, and other animal food make up 80-90% of most songbirds’ diets.

*

Flying Insects:

>> Solitary wasps like the great black wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus) and the great golden digger wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus) eat nectar and/or pollen as adults, but capture and paralyze other insects for their larvae to feed on.

great golden digger wasp on asclepias incarnata
great golden digger wasp on Asclepias incarnata
great black wasp on 'Ice Ballet' asclepias
great black wasp on ‘Ice Ballet’ Asclepias incarnata

>> The larvae of thread-waisted wasps (Eremnophila aureonotata) feed on insects

two thread-waisted wasps (Eremnophila Aureonotata) - their larvae feed on insects
two thread-waisted wasps (Eremnophila aureonotata) on Veronicastrum virginicum

 

>> Some yellow jackets, like this northern aerial yellow jacket (Dolichovespula norvegicoides), feed on larval and adult insects, feeding their larval children the chewed up meat

The northern aerial yellowjacket (Dolichovespula norvegicoides) and other yellow jackets feed on larval and adult insects, feeding their larval children the chewed up meat
northern aerial yellow jacket (Dolichovespula norvegicoides) on ‘Ice Ballet’ asclepias

>> The bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) eats nectar, fruit juice, sap, and insects

The bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) eats nectar, fruit juice, sap, and insects
bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) on angelica

>> The northern paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus) feeds grasshoppers, caterpillars, and other insects to the larvae

northern paper wasp (polistes fuscatus) feeds grasshoppers, caterpillars, and other insects to the larvae
northern paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus) on asters

>> The snipe fly (family Rhagionidae) may eat pollen and nectar or insects; their larvae feed on invertebrates, mainly insects.

snipe fly ... its larva is predatory, though the adult may not eat
snipe fly

>> Robber flies are notoriously aggressive predators, ambushing and feeding on other insects. This one is a Diogmites basalis, resting (or hunting?) on a juniper shrub:

(Robber fly Diogmites sasalis) on juniper
Robber fly (Diogmites basalis) on juniper

>> The larvae of syrphid flies (aka hoverflies, flower flies) love aphids.

Temnostoma alternans (hoverflies), a syrphid fly, and a fungus gnat on Anemone sylvestris
Temnostoma alternans (hoverflies), a syrphid fly, and a fungus gnat on Anemone sylvestris (sounds like the start of a joke)
three syrphid flies on dill
three syrphid flies on dill
syrphid fly on pink cosmos
syrphid fly on pink cosmos

>> Dragonflies and damselflies are prodigious eaters of insects, including butterflies, moths, and bees as well as mosquitoes, midges, and other flying insects; below is a meadowhawk (Sympetrum) dragonfly with prey:

meadowhwak dragonfly with prey
meadowhawk (Sympetrum) dragonfly with prey
male 12-spotted skimmer (Libellula pulchella)
male 12-spotted skimmer (Libellula pulchella)
common whitetail (Plathemis lydia)
common whitetail (Plathemis lydia) in sedum
blue-spotted darner dragonfly (Aeshna sp)
blue-spotted darner (Aeshna sp)
blue-eyed spreadwing damselfly (Lestes congener)
blue-eyed spreadwing damselfly (Lestes congener)

>> Tachinid flies, which lay eggs on caterpillars, beetles and bugs; when the eggs hatch, the young tunnel into their host and feed for a week or so, eventually killing the host insect.

Tachinid fly, perhaps Archytas apicifer, om 'Summer Pastel' yarrow
Tachinid fly, perhaps Archytas apicifer, on Achillea millefolium (yarrow) ‘Summer Pastel’

 *

Other flying insectivores include preying mantises, which eat crickets, beetles, caterpillars, aphids, and leafhoppers, among others; lacewings (their larvae); and tiny predatory and parasitic wasps, which I see all over the garden but which are hard to photograph!

 *

Arachnids:

>> Opiliones (harvestman) arachnids eat a variety of insects and other arthropods, and also scavenge food from feces, fungi, etc.

harvestman spider(Opiliones sp) on pastel yarrow - they eat a variety of insects and other arthropods, and also scavenge food from feces, fungi, etc.
harvestman spider (Opiliones sp) on pastel yarrow

>> Spiders, such as this dark fishing spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus) are notorious hunters of insects. This one is mainly nocturnal and hunts tadpoles and fish in addition to insects.

Dolomedes tenebrosus (dark fishing spider) are nocturnal hunters of insects - and also tadpoles and fish
Dolomedes tenebrosus (dark fishing spider)

The other day, I noticed this candy stripe spider (Enoplognatha ovata) subduing an oriental beetle on bee balm:

candy stripe Spider (Enoplognatha ovata) subduing an oriental beetle on bee balm
candy stripe spider (Enoplognatha ovata) subduing oriental beetle

*

Beetles and others:

Some beetles, like the lady bug (family Coccinellidae), eat aphids, thrips, mealy bugs, mites, scale insects – anything with a soft body:

lady bug (family Coccinellidae) on geranium leaf
lady bug (family Coccinellidae) with water drops, on geranium leaf

>> ground beetles, whose larvae develop in the soil and prey on slugs, root maggots, cutworms, etc.

black ground beetle (Carabidae, possibly Harpalus) at roots of a celandine plant in early April, just after the snow has thawed
black ground beetle (Carabidae, possibly Harpalus) moving about in early April, just after the snow has thawed

>> adult tiger beetles, like this 6-spotted tiger beetle (which can fly, fairly low), eat small insects, spiders, and other arthropods, including other beetles, springtails, sawflies, caterpillars, flies, ants, and grasshoppers.

6-spotted tiger beetle (Cicindela sexguttata)
6-spotted tiger beetle (Cicindela sexguttata)

 *

Other beetles and non-flying insects that prey on pests include millipedes and centipedes, and assassin bugs (which can fly but not well), which eat beetles, flies, mosquitoes, caterpillars, and other insects and spiders.

 *

For more about beneficial insects in the garden, check out these links:

Plants that Attract Beneficial Insects, The Permaculture Research Institute, Oct. 2014. Excellent resource with images and info on the bugs and plant lists (with scientific and common names) for each.

Meet the Beneficial Insects, Organic Life, April 2011.

Enlist Beneficial Insects for Natural Pest Control, Mother Earth News, April/May 2012.

Beneficial Insects and Other Arthropods, Colorado State Univ. Extension, Feb. 2009.

And look at someone else’s bugs! at It’s Not Work, It’s Gardening in St. Louis, MO, 24 July 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: