Did you know that there are close to a million insect species all over the world? Most people think of insects as pests and while there are many harmful bugs out there, not all of them are dangerous and destructive.
Here in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, there are beneficial insects that are often confused for pests. But not all critters in your home or garden are harmful and dangerous, so it helps to know which ones you should really be on the lookout for.
Pests you should you worry about
Before we get into the topic of beneficial insects, let’s do a quick rundown of common house pests that can be dangerous to you, your family, your pets and your property. These nasty critters should be dealt with immediately once you notice their presence in your home.
If you notice any of these troublesome pests in your home or garden, get in touch with a professional Oregon pest control company that offers natural and organic pest control solutions that are safe for humans and pests.
Beneficial insects in your Oregon home
Now let’s go into common insects in your home and garden that may be confused for pests but are actually harmless. Most of them are actually beneficial insects and help maintain a healthy and balanced ecosystem.
While a few caterpillars munching on your ornamentals can send you into a frenzy, we all know that these creatures will metamorphose into butterflies over time. Besides the beauty and natural wonder butterflies bring, these insects pollinate flowers and promote a healthy backyard. They also prey on other harmful insects, which makes them beneficial insects for your garden. Sadly, a lot of butterflies have become endangered because most people get rid of caterpillars in their gardens. If you can, leave butterflies alone and enjoy their beauty instead.
(I love people who handpick caterpillars from their garden, place them in uncovered jars and feed them with leaves until they turn into butterflies!)
Although honey bees will sting when threatened, they are among the most beneficial garden insects. In fact, honey bees are the only insects that produce food for humans. These champion pollinators collect nectar and pollen and convert them into sweet and nutritious honey.
Honey bees are often confused with the more harmful yellow jackets, wasps and hornets. But honey bees are entirely different. They only feed on pollen and nectar and will typically steer away from humans. Wasps and hornets, on the other hand, are carnivorous and aggressive and are more likely to sting you when you get too close. Be sure you know how to tell one from the other. Honey bees have a furry bodies while wasps and hornets do not.
Ladybugs are natural pest eliminators so they are a welcome presence in your garden. Ladybugs prey on many destructive garden pests like thrips, mites, fruit flies and aphids and are vital in maintaining a symbiotic atmosphere in your garden or backyard. Think about this – a single ladybug can consume up to 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. Isn’t that a welcome thing for every garden enthusiast?
Ladybugs are never a threat as they won’t damage your home or harm your family or your pets. Just be sure it’s a ladybug you’re seeing in your garden as the more harmful Mexican bean beetle and squash beetle take on a similar appearance.
Ant & Garden Pest Control in Beaverton, Oregon uses organic pest control treatments that only target harmful critters and preserves beneficial insects like ladybugs in your garden.
One of the ecosystem’s most beneficial insects, dragonflies have voracious appetites and will eat just about any small flying insects in your yard. These top predators in the insect world have a special preference for mosquitoes, which is anybody’s bane especially if you love sitting in your garden on a moonlit night.
Blessed with great eyesight (their eyes cover most of the head surface), these hawk-like hunters can fly at amazing speeds of 20-35 miles per hour. This makes them do a pretty amazing job at wiping out those mosquitoes compared to your swatting ability! Dragonfly bites are also extremely rare as they’re much more likely to fly away than attack when confronted.
Despite their menacing appearance and large size (they can grow up to 6 inches long), praying mantises are beneficial insects never to be feared. In fact, you should be happy to have them in your garden as they are among the best forms of natural pest control. These avid hunters will munch on anything from beetles to flies and moths. Praying mantises have this unique ability to rotate their heads completely, making them among the best insect predators when it comes to hunting down those harmful garden pests. Many avid gardeners and hobbyists even release praying mantises into their yards during the gardening season!
Earwigs can definitely look scary and dangerous with their intimidating pincers protruding from the rear abdomen. Luckily, they only use these to hunt for prey or defend themselves when intimidated. Earwigs are beneficial insects that don’t bite or sting so they’re not dangerous at all! They carry no venom and are entirely harmless to humans and pets.
Earwigs are known as sanitary engineers, helping to clean up the environment as they feed on live or dead insects as well as decaying plant matter. This actually helps break down dying plant material to maintain a healthy ecosystem and help plant life thrive.
Also known as stink flies, green lacewings are delicate insects that feed on pollen and don’t actually prey on bugs in your garden. However, their offspring are voracious aphid gobblers. Green lacewing larvae also feed on other critters like thrips and spider mites, all of which are every gardener’s nightmare. That’s why plant hobbyists even purchase green lacewing eggs at gardening stores to help control the pest population in their gardens the natural way.
Just remember not to touch these beneficial insects if you see them in your garden. While they don’t bite, green lacewings emit a disturbing odor when provoked or threatened.
Saving beneficial garden insects and eliminating harmful pests
Make sure you preserve the population of beneficial insects in your garden while getting rid of harmful pests. An organic pest control expert like Ryan at Ant & Garden Organic Pest Control in Beaverton, OR can help you target the bad guys while safeguarding the good ones!