You are on page 1of 6

Pest Control by Mother Nature

Do you remember the line from the old Raid commercial The only good bug is a dead bug? Happily, the
practice of controlling insects in the garden by killing them all with
chemical pesticides is no longer acceptable. We are looking to more
natural methods of dealing with pests and diseases, and good bugs
are important allies in the struggle.

Good bugs are not just dead ones. In fact, 90% of bugs are beneficial in
the garden. They are natural predators who eat or deter the bad bugs.
And, as a bonus, some of these good bugs are also pollinators!

How do you attract these good bugs to your garden? Thankfully, the
answer doesnt involve a huge outlay of money or time. Beneficial bugs
will find your garden if you provide food, water and shelter. Plant a
variety of native and non-native plants, and include nectar producing and pollinator-friendly plants.
Incorporate a bird bath or water feature, and use natural materials such as rocks and dead branches. By
leaving your garden a bit messy, using compost and natural mulch, and avoiding chemical pesticides, you will
make your space a welcoming spot, and beneficial bugs will
move in and get right to work, above and below the ground.

When you are in your garden can you hear a hum, buzz,
rustle? Thats the symbiotic relationship between plants
and the insect world.

Being predators as well as pollinators, every ant, wasp and

bee is a good insect in the garden. Wasps arent just a
nuisance at your backyard barbecues, they are regarded as
the most important insect group for the control of garden
pests. As a predator, the parasitic wasp
is at the top of the list. It attacks the eggs

of pests such as the leaf miner.

In the garden every spider is a good spider! While technically not an insect, spiders are
vital to a healthy garden. Spiders are always in search of prey, especially the adult insects
that are attacking plants. To complicate things a bit, the Daddy longlegs (Harvestmen)
is not a spider. These delicate creatures also prey on insects and mites.

Adding a straw mulch will increase spider

populations in vegetable gardens. Dont

worry, the spiders found in gardens do
not move indoors.
Now for the introductions!
Say hello to these good bugs that you would like to see in your garden.

Dragonflies and damselflies: These insects are good indicators of healthy freshwater habitats as they will
disappear when water becomes polluted.

Shadow Darner Dragonfly Damselflies

The Darner is one of the most common in Damselflies are comparatively lighter in build than
Southwestern Ontario and by size the largest. dragonflies. They feed on mosquitoes, flies and other
Described as voracious, it will eat any small insect, tiny insects. They also hover around low plants and
particularly mosquitoes. It will also use their thorny legs to eat prey found on leaves and
tackle horseflies. stems.

Beetles: Many beetles play an important role in the recycling of animal dung and dead animals.
Some are also predators which means they eat bad bugs.
NOTE: Information on using nematodes to deter harmful beetles (grubs & wireworms) is included with Reference Materials & Work Cited.

Tiger Beetle
Ontario's most familiar tiger beetle is a metallic green species, an iridescent insect which regularly provides
a flash of colour to spring woodland walks. Cicindela sexguttata, called the Six-spotted Tiger Beetle despite
the fact that some individuals have only 5, 2, or even no white spots, usually appears early in spring, having
spent the winter as an adult hidden in the same burrow it had pupated in the previous fall (a very few adults
can still be found in fall). Like all our adult tiger beetles, Six-spotted Tiger Beetles are voracious hunters that
hang out on sunny vantage points using their massive eyes to scan for potential prey, and for potential
predators. Dr. S. Marshall, U of Guelph
Ground Beetles Lady Beetles
These are beetles that live in the soil and are Often called the best bug, Lady Beetles are
among the most abundant predators. Some beneficial in both their larval and adult stages.
are able to consume their own weight in They attack soft-bodied insects including aphids,
insects every day. scale insects, mealy bugs, the Colorado potato bug
They feed on slugs, snails, cutworms, root larvae and all sorts of insect eggs and spider mites.
maggots and the Colorado potato beetle larvae. D. Dobbie, Ontario Gardener Plant pollinator-friendly
Attract them with a perennial ground cover, plants to attract Lady Beetles. They need to feed on
leaf mulch, stones and branches. flower nectar and pollen before they can reproduce.

Flies: Flies are important pollinators. They also feed on dead carcasses so that nutrients are recycled back
into the environment.

Tachinid Flies Hover Flies Robber Flies

According to OMAFRA Tachinid Adult Hover flies are important In the adult stage Robber flies
flies as a group have a very large pollinators (e.g. strawberries & literally hang from branches or
host range that includes many raspberries). They are helpful in objects near the ground to
caterpillar pests, beetles, bees, early spring before other beneficial pounce on their prey. They are
wasps, sawflies, stink bugs and bugs are active. According to fast and noisy flyers and can catch
grasshoppers. They lay eggs in OMAFRA a female lays up to 400 other flying insects. In the larvae
other insects. eggs in aphid colonies. Each larva stage they live in the ground and
consumes more than 500 aphids feed on other larvae in the soil or
and may also feed on scales, mites, other insects in decaying matter.
small caterpillars, pollen, nectar and
aphid honeydew.
Predatory Bugs: These bugs get their name because they prey on many insects, including the tomato
hornworms, thrips and spider mites. They also like to eat insects eggs, leafhopper nymphs
and other small caterpillars. To attract predatory bugs plant shrubs, grasses and other
plants that provide shelter.

Damsel Bugs Lacewings

Damsel Bugs feed on a wide range of plant The Lacewings shown is in its adult stage. It flits
bugs. e.g. spittlebugs, leaf beetle eggs and from flower to flower feeding on pollen and
larvae, leaf hoppers, sawflies and nectar. In its larval stage, it is called the aphid
spider mites. lion (aphid wolf). The larvae eat every soft-bodied
thing in its path, paralyzing its prey with deadly
venom, then sucking out its juices.
D. Dobbie, Ontario Gardener

Spined Soldier Bug Minute Pirate Bug

Look for the pointed shoulders to identify the The Minute Pirate Bug uses its piercing-
Spined Soldier Bug. This bug has an appetite sucking mouthparts to subdue & feed on
for all kinds of sawflies, aphids, caterpillars their prey. According to OMAFRA this
and larvae. Specifically, it also eats the bug is an important predator in numerous
Colorado potato & Japanese beetles. agricultural crops. Each bug consumes 30
or more spider mites/day. When pest
populations are low, they feed on pollen
and plant juices.
The Assassin Bug uses its needle-like beak to
impale prey. It then injects a venom that both
paralyses and partially digests the prey.

Spined Assassin Bug

Sowbugs, Centipedes and Millipedes: Centipedes, millipedes, sowbugs and pillbugs are arthropods
(not insects). They do enjoy the same living conditions as insects. These creatures are not harmful.
They are merely unattractive and considered a nuisance, especially when found indoors. Health Canada

Sowbugs (Wood Lice) Centipedes and Millipedes

Sowbugs eat decaying plant material. Centipedes are top insect predators.
These tiny land crustaceans need moist conditions They eat millipedes!
to survive, and like to live under rocks or debris Millipedes eat decaying plant material.
where they feed on decaying organic matter. They
usually die quickly once inside home because
moisture levels are not high enough for them.
Health Canada

Now that you have met some of these insects,

hopefully you will welcome them into your garden,
and the next time you see ants in your flower beds
or a spider surprises you by appearing from under a
leaf, remember they are on your side.
Reference Materials & Work Cited:

Foster, Fry, Macaulay. Garden Bugs of Ontario, Lone Pine, 2008 ISBN: 978-1-55105-508-4 Iowa State University, Department of Entomology

Bug Guide: Identification, Images, & Information, For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin, For the United States &
Canada, University of Guelph Insect Collection, Dr. Steve Marshall
10 Need Things About Bugs, Dorothy Dobbie Pegasus Publications Inc. January 2017

Using nematodes to deter harmful beetles (grubs & wireworms)

When you see grubs (white, juicy, brown feet, wiggly legs) its is likely the larvae of the June Beetle, Japanese
Beetle or European Chafer. If you see wireworms it is the larvae of the Click Beetles. The grubs which eat
lawn grass roots can be treated with nematodes. The wireworms eat plant crowns and shred roots. For
information on using nematodes to treat these pests here is the link to the Guelph Turfgrass Institute,
University of Guelph.

Prepared by Grey County Master Gardeners for use by home gardeners & community groups.
For other use please e-mail March 2017 SC.PW. JC