Beneficial Insects As Pest Control

by Randy Greene

Beneficial organisms attack pests, not people, plants, or pets. Beneficials are not pesticides; they need some lead time to work. They should be used as part of an integrated system of pest management which also includes fertilizing, hygienic cultural practices, planting pest-resistant varieties, inter-cropping, proper irrigation, monitoring, tapping, ect. For maximum effectiveness, beneficial releases should begin when pest densities are at a low to medium levels. If your pest problem is already severe, it may be better to apply safe, short-residual to kill a portion of the pests and then introduce the beneficials.

Parasitic Wasps:
Target Pests: The eggs of more than 200 pests, including borers, webworm, loopers, leafworm, fruitworm, cutworm, bollworm and armyworm (except beet armyworm).

How to Use: Release immediately upon receipt. Release Trichogramma at first flight of moths and every 7-10 days thereafter until infestation subsides. It is best to release in the early morning or evening. Suspend the cards out of direct sunlight, below plant tops or in trees where moths have been seen. Cards or squares can be put on stakes or hung from the edge of a pot. Do not touch the eggs. Leave the cards in place for at least 7 days to allow all eggs to hatch.

Green Lacewing:
Target Pests: aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, leafhopper nymphs, moth eggs, scales, thrips, and whiteflies.

How To Use: In gardens and greenhouses, release eggs at approximately 1,000 eggs/2,000 sq. ft. Once the larvae emerge, they will feed for 1-3 weeks before they become adults. For farms release 5,000 to 50,000 per acre depending upon infestation. The adults eat only honey, pollen, and nectar, which they need to reproduce. Repeated releases every 7-10 days will be most effective if the infestation is severe. It is recommended to release Green lacewing at the beginning of each season with a two week interval to establish a preventative colony.

Praying Mantis:
Target: Most pest insects, mites and insect eggs. Mantids eat various aphids, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects when young. As adults they will eat larger insects, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets and other pest insects.

How To Use: Use 3 cases/5,000 sq. ft. or 10-100 cases/acre. Where to place mantid egg cases: Attach egg cases to branches of shrubs, trees or other plants at a notch between the trunk or stem and offshoot branch. Egg cases can also be attached with wire or twist ties. Wrap the egg case carefully and tie to branch in a warm location out of direct sunlight. Do not place on the ground as they are easy prey for ants. Mantids can also be hatched inside a paper bag kept in a warm place. After they hatch, they need to be released before they eat each other!! See Release Instructions Tab above for more detailed release information. Begin releases during early spring. Praying Mantids can be used in conjunction with other beneficial insects, however, beware: Praying Mantids will eat other beneficials if pests are not available. They will not eat ladybugs because they are bigger than most other beneficial insects.

Target Pests: The ladybug is capable of consuming 40-50 aphids a day but will also eat a wide variety of other insects and larva including scales, mealy bugs, leaf hoppers, mites and other soft bodied insects and their eggs.

How To use: One quart of ladybugs will suffice for a large garden but you may want to use more if the pest density is high, Use one gallon for up to 3 acres. In orchards, use one gallon per acre. Grain crops may require as little as one gallon for every 10 miles. For melons and cucumbers use one gallon for ever 15 acres. For artichokes, use about 1 gallon for 10 acres. For alfalfa, a gallon for 10 acres arounf the time of the last frost is normally enough for the first release.

For more information contact Greeneā€™s Country Store & Feed at 636-561-6637 or visit www.greenescountrystore.com.