Some insects and animals are our friends in organic farming and gardening. The three “P”s of these beneficial friends are predators, pollinators and parasites. Predators consume pest insects as food. Pollinators fertilize flowers, which increases the productivity of food crops. Parasites use pests as nurseries for their young. Welcome them into your garden and treat them nicely as you would a friend!

Ladybird

Appearance: A small beetle with an oval dome-shaped body. Classic example is a red shell with black dots. Color varies from red to yellow to almost black. Shiny metallic-looking surface.

Benefit: Preys on aphids, scale insects, and other pests.ladybird

Lacewings

Appearance: Bodies are usually bright green to greenish-brown, and the compound eyes are conspicuously golden. An adult has a slender body with large transparent wings and a kind of fluttering flight.

Benefit: Adults are either not or minimally predatory. Larvae (known as “aphid lions”) are voracious predators of aphids, mealybugs, mites, whiteflies, caterpillar eggs, snail eggs and slug eggs.lacewing

Praying Mantis

Appearance: Unique looking with “prayer-like” posture with folded fore-limbs.

Benefit: Ferocious general predator that attacks beetles, caterpillars, moths, aphids, and most pests. Unfortunately, it will prey on beneficial insects as well. Can be cannibals if there is shortage of food.prayingmantis

Hoverfly

Appearance: Often seen hovering or nectaring at flowers. Brightly colored, with spots, stripes, and bands of yellow or brown covering their bodies. Due to this coloring, they are often mistaken for wasps or bees even though they are harmless.

Benefit: Larvae prey upon pest insects like aphids, thrips and other plant sucking pests. Some adult species are important pollinators. Use companion plants like buckwheat, chamomile, parsley to attract hoverflies.hoverfly

Spider

Appearance: Wingless with eight legs. Some will construct webs, with the webs being two-dimensional or three-dimensional.

Benefit: Preys on many types of insects using their web, bite or venom.spider

Centipede

Appearance: Elongated with one pair of legs per body segment. Easily confused with millipede which has two pairs of legs per body segment.

Benefit: General predator and attacks most pests.centipede

Gecko

Appearance: Four-legged nocturnal animal that can lose its tail in defense.

Benefit: Feeds on insects, including many pests and mosquitoes.gecko

Frog/Toad

Appearance: Amphibious animal that prefers humid and dark places, even in the middle of a vegetable. Frogs have smoother skins while toads have rougher skins.

Benefit: Eats many types of crawling and flying pestsfrog.

Bee

Appearance: Flying insect with two pairs of wings. Easy mistaken for wasps.

Benefit: Important pollinator and producer of honey. Bees can sting humans when threatened.bee

Wasp

Appearance: Two pairs of wings and a stinger. Few or no thickened hairs. Looks like a hybrid of bees and ants.

Benefit: Most wasps are parasitic and lay their eggs inside pests insects. The host will remain alive until the parasitoid wasp larva matures. However, wasps can sting humans when threatened.wasp