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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Appearance: Wingless with eight legs. Some will construct webs, with the webs being two-dimensional or three-dimensional.
Appearance: Elongated with one pair of legs per body segment. Easily confused with millipede which has two pairs of legs per body segment.
Appearance: Four-legged nocturnal animal that can lose its tail in defense.
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.
Appearance: Flying insect with two pairs of wings. Easy mistaken for wasps.
Appearance: Two pairs of wings and a stinger. Few or no thickened hairs. Looks like a hybrid of bees and ants.