A garden is the best alternative therapy.

B.I.F.’s

B.eneficial I.nsect F.iles

Good and Bad Insects

Every garden is teeming with insect life, both beneficial and harmful.  In a balanced environment, insect populations are held in check by limited available food and water sources and by predators.  In a cultivated environment, however, gardeners introduce a host of plants to an area that are quite attractive to harmful insects that seek out those plants for food.  In order to control these pests, gardeners have typically used chemical treatments and insecticides.  Unfortunately, insecticides do not target solely the harmful pests.  Beneficial insects such as butterflies and honeybees are also affected by these chemicals, reducing their populations as well.  Because the natural food source (i.e. the cultivated plants) remains, and beneficial, predatory insect populations have been reduced by insecticides, however, the gardener has to continually apply insecticides to keep the harmful insect population in check.

The Good: Honeybee; The Bad: cucumber beetle

It is good news that more and more gardeners are steering clear of synthetic chemicals, choosing instead to grow their gardens organically.  In so doing, they are turning to a variety of natural pest-control products such as garlic and soap sprays, Diatomaceous earth, and neem, as well as plants that deter bugs like marigolds and certain herbs.   Another form of insect control is the cultivation and introduction of even more bugs into your garden.

What?! More Bugs?

Yep.  Beneficial insects like lady beetles, lacewings, predatory wasps and mantis all help protect your garden by feeding upon the insects that do your plants harm.   Ladybugs, for example, feed voraciously on the soft bodies of aphids.  Aphids have specially-designed mouths which allow them to suck nutrients out of the stems and leaves of plants.  As aphids feed, they secrete “honeydew”, which is attractive to sugar ants and even some predatory insects like hoverflies.  Aphids reproduce by the hundreds and it takes little time for an entire population of aphids to destroy vegetation by injuring the plant repeatedly and stealing its nutrients.  Aphid bites are also a vector for disease such as the mosaic virus, which is deadly for certain plants like cucumbers and squash.  Lady beetles, however, make quick work of aphids, disposing of nearly one every minute by piercing their soft bodies and sucking them bone-dry.

Below are our Beneficial Insect Files (BIF’s), which contain a listing of the beneficial insects we’ve documented in our garden.  Please click on any picture below to go to the insect’s page, which includes more photographs and detailed information.

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Black Swallowtail Caterpillar and Butterfly

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Bumble Bee

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Checkered White Butterfly

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Cicada Killer Wasp

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Giant Swallowtail

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Honeybee

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Lady Beetle (a.k.a. Ladybug)


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Paper Wasp

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Red Admiral Butterfly

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Syrphid Fly

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