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Using Beneficial Insects to Control Pests in the Greenhouse

Protect your plants from harmful bugs...naturally.

Did you know that 95% of all known insects are beneficial to humankind? In addition, the Lady bug, one of the more popular beneficial insects, can eat about 80 aphids a day? Plus, the nutrients in aphids are necessary for the Ladybug to make healthy babies. An adult Ladybug will lay about 1500 eggs during her lifespan, and she will place her eggs in the middle of an aphid colony to ensure her babies survival.

The proper use of beneficial insects has been proven as an effective and efficient alternative to the application of pesticides in the greenhouse. Using beneficial insects not only lowers the populations of pests, but is also safer for your plants. Before adding any insects to the environment, you should consider these six points:

  1. Carefully identify the target pest populations because many predatory bugs are geared to go after only certain other insects.
  2. Only buy the insects from qualified suppliers.
  3. Do not use residual pesticides up to a month before releasing the new beneficial insects
  4. Release the new insects when the population of the target pest is at a low level and, if possible, when the bulk of them are in a vulnerable stage in their life cycle.
  5. Keep and maintain a suitable environment for the beneficial insects. Make sure your greenhouse environment favors them over the pests.
  6. Be sure that you can identify your beneficial insects in all stages of life so that you don’t end up considering them a problem after their release.

For more information consult The Greenhouse Gardener’s Companion.

Beneficial Ladybugs
Ladybugs can help keep populations of aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and whiteflies in check. They are also pollinators and can help to pollinate flowers in the greenhouse.

Beneficial Nematodes
Beneficial nematodes are microscopic roundworms. These parasitic insects are applied to the soil where they seek out and infect their target pests. They target grubs, larvae, thrips, aphids, and other insect pests. The nematodes release bacteria that infect and kill the pests, providing a natural and effective way to control pest populations without the use of harmful chemicals. As an added benefit, beneficial nemotodes also add organic matter to the soil and feed on fungi and bacteria that cause plant diseases.

Beneficial Praying Mantis
Praying Mantis are effective at controlling aphids, white flies, thrips and spider mites. As an added bonus, they are fascinating to watch in the garden.

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