Thankful for Beneficials

Nov 25, 2015

Thanksgiving is a time to gather together with family and friends. The occasion is usually centered around a big meal followed by pumpkin pie, and hopefully some time to let each person share a list of what they are most grateful for that year.

Here at UC IPM, we are adding beneficial insects to our “thankful” list! These helpful invertebrates (also called natural enemies) are often overlooked for the contribution they make to gardens and landscapes.

Natural enemies, such as spiders and certain mites and insects, can help reduce the number of pests in your garden. It's possible that part of the reason they are overlooked is because you may not recognize them or you may not know that their role in your garden is beneficial.

Most people know what lady beetle (aka 'ladybug') adults look like. But can you recognize lady beetle larva or pupa? The larval and pupa life stages look nothing like their adult form. Make sure you recognize them because adults and larvae of many lady beetle species are voracious aphid predators.

Plenty of people may not appreciate spiders, but these beneficials are predators that eat many pests such as flies, other spiders, and related arthropods.

In order to protect beneficials, it's essential that you are able to identify them. See photographs of many beneficials in UC IPM's Natural Enemies Gallery and don't forget to include them when you give thanks this holiday.

By Karey Windbiel-Rojas
Author - Associate Director for Urban & Community IPM/ Area IPM Advisor

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