Assassin Bugs - Assassin bugs are 1/2 inch long, black or brown, have large eyes on a narrow head, and have large front legs with spines for grabbing prey. The giant wheel bug is one well known example. They overwinter in different stages. They prey on aphids, caterpillars, Colorado potato beetles, Japanese beetles, leafhoppers, and other insects. They also do not like to be handled.

Bigeyed bugs - Bigeyed bugs are long grey-tan insects with huge eyes and tiny black spots on the head and thorax. They hibernate in garden matter and like carrot family plants and goldenrod. Their prey include aphids, leafhoppers, chinch bugs, spider mites, and insect eggs.

Damsel Bugs - Damsel bugs resembles assassin bugs. They are pale gray, about 3/8 inches long. The damsel bug feeds on aphids, leafhoppers, mites, and caterpillars.

Green lacewings - Adults are pale green or brown, 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, with a slender body and large, clear, highly veined wings that are held over the body when at rest. They lay eggs with stalks. Larvae are yellowish-grey, mottled, spiny, and have long thin jaws which curve like pinchers. They are attracted to yarrow and wild carrot. Larvae, (called antlions or aphid lions) eat aphids, mealy bugs, mites, scale insects, white flies, thrips, and insect eggs.

Ground beetles - Adults are 1 inch or less, fast moving, iridescent bluish-black in color. They hide under rocks and other objects during the day. Larvae are elongated and dark brown-black with large heads. They eat a variety of insects they find on the ground.

Lady beetles (Ladybird beetles, lady bugs) - These well known beetles are reddish, orange, or black with spots. Color and spots vary with species. Larvae are elongated, 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, covered with tiny spines, and are grey or black with blue and orange markings. Adults are attracted to pollen and nectar plants. Both adults and larvae consume aphids, thrips, mealy bugs, scale insects, mites, and whiteflies.

Minute pirate bugs - These tiny bugs are smaller than 1/8 inch long and are generally black. Nymphs resemble adults but are orange and do not have wings. They eat aphids, scale insects, and other tiny insect pests. The insidious flower bug is an important enemy of thrips.

Parasitic wasps - These wasps are common in several different families. They can range in size from 1/16 to 2 inches, though most are tiny. Coloration is often black to brown. The wasps are slender, have a pinched waist and clear wings. Examples include chalcids, braconids, ichnecmonids, and trichogramma. Trichogramma wasp attacks eggs of more than 200 species, including cutworms, corn borers, corn earworms, armyworms, codling moths, and cabbage moths. Adults use their stinger to attack larvae and lay eggs in their prey; trichogramma attacks the legs of its host. They can be encouraged by planting wildflowers in the daisy and carrot families. They can attack many caterpillars, beetle larvae, flies, aphids, and other soft bodied insects.

Praying mantids - Large (2 1/2 to 4 inches long) green or brown with long bodies, large eyes and papery wings. These slow moving insects have modified long front legs for grabbing prey. Immatures resemble adults but are smaller and wingless. Mantids overwinter as eggs deposited in a paper mache-like egg case. They are nonselective feeders of insects including other praying mantids.

Predacious stink bugs - Adults have a shield shaped body and overlapping wing tips. They emit a strong odor when disturbed. Nymphs are more rounded and colored red and black when young. The older nymphs are red, black, yellow-orange, and cream colored in bands and blotches. Many stink bugs are insect pests, but the spined soldier bug and twospotted stink bugs are beneficial. Predacious stink bugs feed on Colorado potato beetles, Mexican bean beetles, and various caterpillar larvae.

Predatory mites - They are the same size or larger than spider mites but move more rapidly. The color can be white, tan, orange, or reddish. These mites feed on many mite pests, including the two spotted spider mite.

Soldier beetles - Adults resemble fireflies, but do not light up. They overwinter as mature larvae and are attracted to wild lettuce, milkweed, hydrangea, and goldenrod. They eat aphids, small beetles, caterpillars, grasshopper eggs, and spider mites.

Syrphid flies (Hover flies, Flower flies) - Adults are 1/8 to 5/8 inch long with short antennae, one pair of wings, and the ability to hover and turn like a humming bird. The adults resemble bees, come in many colorations (yellow, orange, black), and feed on nectar and pollen. The larvae are tapered, legless, tan or green maggots. They are attracted by coreopsis, candytuft, morninglory, and nemophila. Larvae have a voracious appetite for aphids, scale, thrips, mealybugs, and leafhoppers.

Tachinid flies - Adults resemble houseflies, but are larger, and are covered with bristles. They parasitize adults and larvae of beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars such as sawflies, armyworms, and gypsy moth.

Trichogrammatid wasps - Very minute wasps that parasitize insect eggs. Some species are host and habitat specific. Timing of release is critical since these parasitic wasps only attack the egg stage of insect pests. Host examples: cabbage lopper, tomato hornworm.

Paper wasps, Hornets - Though more often considered pests, paper wasps consume many caterpillars while raising their young during the summer months. Hornets catch many soft bodied flying insects to feed their larvae.

Consumer Horticulture | Quick Reference

© Erv Evans, Consumer Horticulturist
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