Parasitic beneficial insects are crucial members of your garden patrol. Calling an insect "parasitic" can be a tremendous compliment if you're an organic gardener. Beneficial insects fall into three categories:
Pollinators Bees and others that move pollen around.
Predators Insects that eat other insects, such as predatory mites that eat other mites, or ladybugs that eat aphids.
Parasites or parasitic insects These lay eggs in other insects and consume the other insect as it grows. Eeew. But it works.
If you have good populations of all three kinds of beneficial insects in your garden you will probably have little need for additional insect control. Place parasitic insects in your garden at the beginning of the warm season, when they have hosts to prey upon. Bear in mind that the parasitic wasps will target the larvae of ALL moths and butterflies. Parasitic wasps are just as happy to destroy monarch butterfly larvae as well as codling moth larvae or manure fly larvae -- so do not place the parasitic wasps near butterfly gardens or flower beds.
In our video on beneficial parasitic insects Tricia introduces five popular parasites and explains who their hosts are. We have them all for you here -- pick them up at the store or order online or by phone. 'Tis the season! Trichogramma wasps Parasitic wasps Predatory mites Fungus gnat control Beneficial nematodes If you use a broad spectrum insecticide spray early in the growing season you will kill the beneficial insects along with the pests. With a low population of beneficial insects you could have an even bigger pest problem later in the season. One more reason to use beneficial insects, instead of sprays, to attack pests.
For more information about other good bugs, see our video and accompanying blog post on beneficial predator insects.