List of Beneficial Insects- And What They Do

lady bug
Just one among thousands that help us garden

Here is a list of the most common beneficial insects that I know of. Getting to know these insects is a must if you are actively taking care of your garden, lawn and flower beds. Just like any other form of life, there are good and bad insects. The bad like grasshoppers and aphids will totally destroy anything you plant and it is a good idea to know what is destroying those plants. The beneficial insects are ladybugs and dragonflies which live on the bad insects. So we need to be able to identify the good, bad, and the ugly(whoops that’s me). Through experience and making a few mistakes we can keep those roses, apple trees, and blackberries flourishing, but we have to know what we are doing. This page is not everything you need to know but a teaser to get you started thinking about what happens when you go out and spray those bugs. By the way, there are natural ways to get rid of those bad insects and most will leave the good guys alone.

ANT LION/DOODLEBUG

  • Prey on many insects which are captured in their pits of 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter
Antlion larva
Larva
by Jonathan Numer
  • Similar to dragonflies but are fragile and poor fliers

APHIDOLETES

  • Adults are about 1/16 inch long, a very small fly
Aphidoletes.aphidomyza
  • Almost entirely feeds on aphids
  • The females lay 100 to 200 eggs near aphid colonies where the larvae will eat their way to adulthood

ASSASSIN BUG

  • May be confused with the squash bug
  • A voracious predator of flies, mosquitos, beetles and large caterpillars
ASSASSIN BUG
ASSASSIN BUG
  • This beneficial insect is about 1/2 inch long with a narrow elongated head
  • Assassin bugs range from brownish green to dark brown


BACILLUS THURINGIENSIS
–MOSQUITOS DUNKS

  • Used in commercial mosquito dunks placed in water and eaten by mosquitos
BACILLUS THURINGIENSIS
BACILLUS THURINGIENSIS

BALD FACED HORNET

  • Noted as beneficial insect hawks because they pounce many pests including crane flies and other flies
  • They are excellent pollinators
BALD FACED HORNET
BALD FACED HORNET
  • They resemble yellow jackets but are a little bit larger–up to 3/4 inch long
  • Have extra large heads with black and white markings, wings extend to the end of their abdomen
  • WILL STING HUMANS IF ANNOYED
  • For more information, please enjoy my VIDEO.

BIGEYED BUGS

  • This beneficial insect feeds mainly on caterpillars, aphids, mites, chinch bugs and other pests and their eggs
  • Found on soil surface preying on many small insects
  • Bigeyed bugs are small 1/8 to 1/4 inches
BIGEYED BUGS
BIGEYED BUGS
  • Have very large eyes and clear wings, black and silver in color
  • Bodies are stout and somewhat flat

BRACONID PARASITE

  • Resemble the Ichneumonid wasps but braconid are more stout and are black
Braconid Wasp
Tomato Hornworm Parasitized by Braconid Wasp
  • They parasitize many different insects like aphids, caterpillars, weevil larvae, flies, true bugs, sawflies and other larvae
  • Over 1700 species in North America

BUMBLE BEE

  • Noted for being great pollinators
  • These beneficial insects are about 1 inch in length and are black and yellow
BUMBLE BEE
bumble bee
  • A queen bee can lay 8 to 12 eggs in nests in the ground, empty mouse burrows and discarded mattresses

CENTIPEDE

  • Have 1 leg per segment and are usually brown to black
  • Can be 1/2 to 3 inches in length
CENTIPEDE
Long-legged Centipede
  • This beneficial insect feeds on slugs, worms and fly pupae

DAMSEL FLIES

  • 1 to 2 inches in length and are similar to dragonflies
  • Feeds on small insects like flies, mosquitos, gnats and aphids
Damselfly
a young female Common Blue Damselfly
  • Usually work from May to November and overwinters as immatures

DRAGONFLIES

  • 18 to 5 inches in length and are similar to damsel flies
  • Feeds on small insects like flies, mosquitos, gnats and aphids
  • Usually works from May to October and overwinters as immatures
DRAGONFLIES
Dragonflies are found on every continent except Antarctica
  • Their color is brown to blue
  • Found in and around water where they wait for their main food mosquitos
  • Both nymph and adult are vicous on many insects

DECOLLATE SNAIL

  • Feeds mainly on slugs and brown garden snails
  • Will also eat old leaf mulch but not live plants
DECOLLATE SNAIL
a European species that has been introduced in a number of areas worldwide.
  • This snail works at night and attacking the eggs of snails and slugs
  • Once established should not have to worry about these pests again

FLY PARASITE PREDATORS

  • They are gnat size burrowing insects
FLY PARASITE PREDATORS
3 different species: Spalangia cameroni, Muscidifurax zaraptor and Muscidifurax raptorellus.
  • These predators serve as a leading check of fly groups by killing flies in the early maggot and pupa stages
  • Have no affect on humans and horses-only manure breeding pest flies

GROUND BEETLES

  • Possibly 2500 species in North America
  • Feed mainly on root maggots and cutworms and other soil inhabiting pests
  • A few types will eat snails and slugs
GROUND BEETLES
Carabidae Caminara Starred ground beetle
  • They are usually black and shiny, may also have a metallic sheen on wing covers
  • Hard to find because they hunt at night and then hide under yard debris

HOVER FLIES OR FLOWER FLIES/SYRPHID FLIES

  • The larvae feed on aphids, mealybugs and other small insects
  • They are about 1/2 inch long
Hoverflies
Hoverflies mating
  • They hover(like a helicopter) and dart about making a loud buzzing sound
  • Bodies are like bees yellow or white and black
  • Adults are excellent pollinators because they must feed on nectar before they can reproduce

ICHNEUMON FLY

  • These wasps are from 1/10 to 1 1/2 inches in length
  • Bodies have long abdomens and are usually brownish black or red and black
ICHNEUMON FLY
parasitic in caterpillars and other insect larvae
  • They are good pollinators but feed mainly on caterpillars, beetle larvae and othe soft bodied insects
  • A large group with over 3100 species just in North America
  • Lay their eggs in host insects

LACEWING (GREEN LACEWING)

  • May be found inside the house during the fall and winter-won’t hurt anything
  • Lacewings are brown or green
LACEWING
it is difficult to establish and maintain populations in fields of crops
  • The larvae are also known as aphid lions, attacking the eggs and young stages of pests like spider mites, aphids, thrips, sweet
    potato whiteflies, mealybugs, leafhoppers, and eggs of most pest moths
  • Grow to about 3/8 inch
  • Use with Trichogramma wasps for a very effective treatment of these insects

LADYBUG(LADY BEETLE)

  • Shaped like a volkswagen with bright red or yellow body with black, red, white or yellow spots.
  • It may be confused with the Japanese Beetle
ladybug
Ladybug, 7-Spot Lady Beetle, Ladybird, Lady Beetle
  • Feeds on aphids, spider mites, mealybugs and scale insects
  • Don’t be surprised to find in the house over fall and winter
  • During their life span one ladybug may consume as many as 2400 aphids
  • In the female’s short life she may lay up to 500 eggs
  • Probably the most used beneficial insect

LONGLEGGED FLIES

  • Are long legged compared to small bodies and hence their names
  • Over 1200 species in North America
LONGLEGGED FLIES
a large, cosmopolitan family of true flies with more than 7,000 described species
  • They are colorful insects with metallic green, copper or blue in color
  • They are predators of mainly aphids and spider mites

MARSH FLIES

  • These flies are beneficial bugs that are slender, yellow brown in color with red eyes
  • Have long antennae and spotted wings
Marsh Fly
this one found in Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  • They are pollinators and prey on small snails

MASON BEE

  • They are active pollinators between apple blossom and cherry blossom season
  • Mason bees look like house flies than honey bees and are smaller
MASON BEE
Blue Mason-bee female – Osmia caerulescens
  • They are a dark blue black with no stripes

MEALYBUG DESTROYERS

  • As the name implies loves mealybugs, both adult and larvae

  • They will lay their eggs in a mealybug egg mass letting the new larvae feed on immature mealybugs

MINUTE PIRATE BUGS

  • Feeds mainly on spider mites, caterpillars, thrips and other insects and their eggs
  • Adults are about 1/4 inch long
minute pirate bug
also known as flower bugs
  • Bodies are silver and black with the tips of their wings are black resembling a pirate flag, hence the name
  • These bugs are excellent hunters and will kill more than they can eat

NOSEMA LOCUSTAE

  • A single-celled protozoan destroys over ninety species of locusts, grasshoppers and several species of crickets
  • Not harmful to mankind, farm animal and pets
  • Is able of breeding through invasion of grasshoppers, had better cycle itself if vermins are present

PARASITIC WASPS

  • These wasps are so small that you will not even notice them, less than 1/8 inch
  • 1600 species in North America
 Parasitic Wasps
Mating pair of Parasitic Wasps
  • The many different species will eat aphids, whiteflies, butterflies or moths, leafminers, scales, cabbage loopers and hornworms

PRAYING MANTIS

  • Praying Mantises will eat insects and other invertebrates such as other praying mantises, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders,
    butterflies, and beetles
 praying mantis
South African praying mantis eating a fly
  • Also eat vertebrates such as lizards, mice, tree frogs, hummingbirds
  • Know by Praying Mantis, Praying Mantids or Praying Mantises
  • At least 2,000 species of Praying Mantis and are carnivorous insects
  • Camouflage is very important to these insects. Most are pea green or brown but may be light green to pink
  • Only insect that can turn it’s head 180 degrees side to side
  • The female will lay anywhere from 12 to 400 eggs usually in the fall of the year

PREDATORY MITES

  • Adults are about 0.002 inches in length
  • Are beige to reddish tan in color

PREDATORY MITES

  • They can consume up 5 to 10 spider mites and citrus mites or 20 eggs a day

PREDATORY SOIL MITE

  • Feeds on soil living insects, mites, fungus gnat and all stages of springtails
  • They are very small- 1/20 inch

ROBBER FLY

  • Larvae prey on other insect larvae as they grow up in the soil or damp wood
  • Adults feed on grasshoppers, leafhoppers, wasps, dragonflies, beetles, bees, other flies, and many other insects
  • Sizes are about 3/8 to 1 1/8 inch
Robber fly
Robber fly with a prey
  • They are hairy bodied with a long tapering abdomen that are segmented, are usually gray to black
  • Their legs are strong, make for easy grabbing of their prey

ROVE BEETLES

  • Feed mainly on aphids, mites, nematodes, slugs, snails and flies
  • Range in size from 1/10 to 1 inch
Rove beetle
Most rove beetles are predators of insects and other invertebrates, living in forest leaf litter and similar decaying plant matter.
  • These black or brown beetles have wings that are short
  • They also aid in the breakdown of organic matter

SOLDIER BEETLES

  • These beetles feed on cucumber beetles, aphids, caterpillars, grasshopper eggs and other insects and their eggs
  • Soldier beetles are a slender, elongated, relatively flat insects
  • Range from 1/3 to 1/2 inches long
Soldier Beetles
also known commonly as leatherwings
  • Some species will have bright colors or markings in their back but mainly brown to black in color
  • Larvae are flat with a velvety appearance

SPINED SOLDIER BUGS

  • Are sometimes confused with stink bugs which are real garden pests
  • These bugs feed on pest varieties of caterpillars and beetle larvae
Spined soldier bug
a species of insect common in North America.
  • They are usually about 1/2 inch long

SPIDERS

  • ALL SPIDERS ARE INSECT EATERS
  • Some weave webs and some don’t catch their prey
Yellow Garden Spider
North American species of garden spider
  • In North America, only the Brown Recluse and Black Widow are considered harmful to man

TACHNID FLY

  • Look like house flies and are one third to one half inch long
  • They may be gray, black or brown in color
Tachinid fly
commonly are called tachina flies or simply tachinids
  • They are marauders of harmful caterpillars including codling moths, cutworms, gypsy moth larvae, tent caterpillars and cabbage
    loopers

TRICHOGRAMMA (Genus)

  • With a wingspread of 1/50th of an inch, is among smallest of insects
  • A favorite to use around crops like cotton, corn, tomatoes, avocados, walnuts, pecans, apples and alfalfa
  • They go after the larvae stages of both moths and butterflies which eat foliage off the plants

YELLOW JACKET

  • They are beneficial as a predator of caterpillars, flies and beetle grubs
  • Adult yellow jackets are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in length
YELLOW JACKET
Often confused with bees, yellow jackets are much more aggressive
  • Their sting is feared for good reason because of allergic reactions

10 Beneficial Insects You Want in the Garden video that is only 6:54 minutes.

Leave a Comment