The sun gleams through the curtains waking you up to a beautiful morning while you stretch in your silk pajamas. You head downstairs to pour yourself a lovely cup of tea with some honey and a bowl of fresh fruit. You smile at your beautiful garden right outside your window as you sink into your chair, to enjoy your delicious breakfast and a good book. This sounds like the perfect morning does it not? Did you know that your perfect morning wouldn't be happening without the help of some very important insects? Let's take a look at the many ways we can be thankful for some beneficial insects.
Bees: Not just about Honeybees
Over a third of our food supply comes from plants that are pollinated by insects like bees, butterflies, wasps and beetles with 80% of this task completed by the hardworking bees. Without these beneficial insects, your food choices would be limited greatly especially since around 90% our fruits and vegetables keep growing with the help of these important insects. Don't like your fruits and veggies? The steak you enjoyed last night at that fancy restaurant does and the staple of a cow's diet. Alfalfa is pollinated by the very same important insects.
Sacramento organic gardens contain a variety of native bees as well has honeybees. Bees range in size from a quite tiny 2 mm to the gigantic bulk of the carpenter bee. Each specie of bee that are found in your organic garden does an amazing job of pollinating. Some of my favorite native bees are the longhorn bees that grace summer gardens. Many native bees are ground dwelling and solitary. A great aspect of native bees is that their presence causes honeybees to increase productivity. Some native bee species have been shown to be better pollinators than honeybees. Leafcutter bees are better pollinators for alfalfa. Mason bees are better pollinators in orchards than are honeybees.
A boon to organic gardens are the flies that mimic bees. These are flies that look like bees. They use batesian mimicry as a means of defence. There are many species of flies who only pollinate. We tend to think of flies as nasty insects that are capable of spreading disease, and for a few species that is very true. The majority of flies are perfectly safe. The group of flies that are bee mimics is truly beneficial to Sacramento organic Gardens. Bee mimic flies are very shy. To observe them, you have to stay still and pay attention. They kind of look like rock stars in that they have these beautiful eyes that look like mirrored sunglasses.
Defenders: Organic pest control
Praying mantis and ladybugs are two more beneficial insects for that beautiful garden you have outside your window. Praying mantis help with pest control by eating many medium size or larger sized insects. Ladybugs eat small to micro sized insects including pests like mites, and insect eggs. Many species of wasp are also protectors of your garden. Wasps are predators of aphids, spiders, beetles, and even stink bugs. It is safe to say that if there is an insect pest in your organic garden that there is a wasp designed by nature to prey upon that pest.
Mantids are generalists and will eat any insect that they can catch. It is also the only predator, besides bats, to hunt the night flying moths and has enough speed to capture flies. Mantids are also capable of taking down small mammals like mice. Mantids are such great predators that they have been used as biological control in habitats that are too sensitive for non organic methods of pest control.
Ladybugs, which, by the way, are not bugs at all, they are beetles, are very capable tools for organic pest control. In fact, Ladybugs can eat up to fifty aphids a day. They are also great consumers of scale insects, and small mites. Ladybugs are not only cute they are formidable weapons that help to protect your fruit and vegetables.
From an entomological perspective, there are a lot of beneficial insects in organic gardens. Each is designed to protect your garden from a range of insects. When we think about insects, it is important to realize that insects exist in many different forms. Their life cycle includes the adult form, juvenile form, larval form, pupal form, and the egg. Pest control is not just about predation of adult bugs. Larvae are vast consumers of plant material. They are perhaps the insect form that causes the most damage to commercial gardens and organic gardens. It is important that predatory insects special in all insects forms. Paper wasps, for example, are excellent destroyers of larvae. Moth larvae are their preferred food source.
Other important insects include honeybees, lac bugs, dung beetles, termites and silk worms. Silk worms are responsible for the fabulous fabric, silk. Here is how each of them is beneficial.
- Honeybees are the lovely creators of honey and the massive production of pollinating.
- Lac Bugs- secrete a sticky resin onto trees which is used to make shellac, a shiny finish for wood.
- Dung Beetles- consume more than 80% of dung left by cattle herds and other animals. This helps cut down on the fly population in pastures.
- Termites- help break down dead trees returning them to the soil as nutrients.
- Silkworms- are responsible for the fabulous fabric, silk.
- Ants- recycle everything from dead organisms to seeds.
The next time you notice an insect be sure to say thank you for all that they do for you each of us.