Beneficial Insects and Keeping Them

Last Thursday we had a workshop about beneficial insects and how to incorporate them into your garden. One of Elizabeth’s CSA shareholders, Jeff,  keeps bees and he came out to show us how bees can help pollinate and to teach everyone some some basics.


Learning about beneficials and bees

Learning about beneficials and bees

Captivated by the enclosed bee frame

Captivated by the enclosed bee frame
a brooding hive, enclosed in glass

A brooding hive, enclosed in glass

Jeff and his hive

Jeff and his hive

Trying Jeff's honey

Trying Jeff’s honey

The life cycle of bees

The life cycle of bees

A photographer from Celebrate Gettysburg, Casey, dropped by to take some photos for an upcoming article. It was nice to have him at the garden.

The Celebrate Gettysburg photographer

Casey Martin, getting some close-ups of zinnias

It’s important to remember that although some bugs are pests in the garden, many are extremely helpful.  Here are some tips to manage the insects in your garden:

  • Identify insect before killing it, then determine whether it’s helpful, harmful, or neutral by looking it up online or referring to your handout
  • Utilize IPM (Integrated Pest Management) This keeps us from using pesticides and other harmful chemicals and allows us to make intelligent decisions about pest management:
  • Monitor garden daily to check for insects, population sizes, what plants they’re on and when in the year (it’s a good idea to keep track of these so that you can remember to take action early next year)
  • Identify the pest
  • Evaluate and predict: determine how much damage it’s causing or whether it’s a good insect and predict what might happen if you leave it or remove it
  • Decide and control: if it’s bad, use Pyganic spray or kill it manually.  If it’s good, plant more of whatever it’s on.  Remember not to use insecticides  because they also kill the beneficial insects.
  • Friends: Your handout has some of these, as well as the photos on the picnic tables.  Ladybug, Ichneumon Wasp, predaceous stink bug, paper wasp, praying mantis, predatory wasp, spiders (orb weaver), predatory mite, zelus assassin bug, assassin nymph, wheel bug, damsel bug, lacewings, praying mantis (eat friends and foes), tiger beetle, ground beetle, rove beetle (pincers), wasps eat caterpillars, syrphid fly, hoverfly, robber fly, tachnid fly (parasitoids- eggs eat hosts), eulophid wasp, ichneumonid wasp,
  • Pollen & nectar-bearing flowers can attract beneficials
  • Predator bugs eat pests for you!
  • Lots of predatory species are good (tend to be found in solitude, not groups, like aphids)


    • Lady Bugs- Eat aphids.  They like flowers and many herbs.

      The kids found some ladybugs

      The kids found some ladybugs

    • Praying Mantis- Eat Mexican bean beetles, moths and many other pests.  They do eat some beneficials too, but are still helpful.  Plant flowers to attract them.
    • Ground beetles: Eat slugs, snails, cutworms, root maggots, and potato beetle larvae.  They like to hide under stones, logs, and other groundcovers.
    • Lacewings- Eat aphids, thrips, moth eggs, small caterpillars and mites.  They also like herbs and wildflowers.
    • Certain wasps- attack the eggs of pest bugs as well as some lay their eggs on pests as hosts.  Their larvae then eat and kill the pest bug.  They like pollen and nectar plants.
    • Hover Flies- Eat aphids and cabbage worms and can pollinate fruit.  They like annual flowers and herbs.
    • Spiders- Feed on many insects and prevent outbreaks of pest bugs.  They like perennials and straw mulches for shelter.

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