Category Archives: Beneficial of the Month

Beneficial Insect of the Month – Damsel or nabbed bugs – (Family: Nabidae)

The nabids or damsel bugs are a uniform dull brown color (both as adults and nymphs) and are longer and more slender than big-eyed bugs (approximately 9-10 mm long). They are common in both farm and garden habitats, and are good ‘generalist’ predators, tackling a variety of prey. They overwinter in the adult stage in cracks and crevices in the soil or in leaf litter. Beneficial of the Month material courtesy of NMSU ACES: Pocket Guide to the Beneficial Insects of New Mexico Reminder:  Look…

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Beneficial of the Month – Minute Pirate Bugs – (Family: Anthocoridae)

At approximately 2-3 mm long, these are among the smallest of our common predators. In spite of their small size, however, the adults are easily recognized by their black and white ‘checkerboard’ appearance. The immature stages are brown and orange. Both adults and nymphs will tackle a variety of prey, including whiteflies, mites, insect eggs and newly hatched larvae, aphids, and thrips. These insects can sustain themselves on pollen when prey is scarce and hence are often found in flowers. Beneficial of the Month material…

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Beneficial of the Month – Beetles (Order: Coleoptera) – Soft-winged Flower Beetles (Family: Melyridae)

As their name suggests, these beetles are often found on flowers, although they are common and widespread in other habitats, including alfalfa fields. They are often brightly colored, sometimes with a metallic sheen. Some species have enlarged basal antennal segments. Both adults and larvae are predatory, with the latter usually being found in the soil, in leaf litter, or under bark. Two species of soft-winged flower beetle. Source:  Pocket Guide to the Beneficial Insects of New Mexico

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Beneficial of the Month – Big-eyed Bugs – (Order: Hemiptera; Family: Geocoris species)

Small, inconspicuous insects (approximately 5 mm ng) that are very common in both garden and agricultural settings. Both adults and immatures (‘nymphs’) are readily identified by their broad head with large eyes projecting from the sides; nymphs are similar in shape to adults  but are smaller and lack fully functional wings. Adults are usually brown  or reddish in color and the nymphs a paler brown/grey. As true bugs, all stages have piercing mouthparts and feed by sucking the liquid contents from their prey (insect eggs,…

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Beneficial of the Month – Rove Beetles (Order: Coleoptera; Family: Staphylinidae)

These insects are unique among the beetles in having very short wing cases (elytra) that leave most of the abdominal segments exposed. This allows them to flex the abdomen upwards and towards the head in a defensive posture that resembles a scorpion. They cannot sting, however, and instead capture their prey with their mandibles. They vary in size from a few millimeters to 1-2 cm and consume a range of prey, including insect eggs, aphids, and small moth larvae. The larval stages live in the…

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Beneficial of the Month – Ground Beetles – (Order: Coleoptera; Family: Carabidae)

These beetles are fast-moving, relatively large predators that attack a wide range of insect prey; a few species eat seeds and play a role in reducing the weed seed bank in the soil. They are typically black in color, often with a metallic sheen. Since they are nocturnal, they often pass undetected in the farm and garden, even though they may be present in high numbers. At first glance they may be mistaken for the large, black ‘darkling’ beetles (Family: Tenebrionidae) that are active during…

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Beneficial of the Month

In our first inaugural column, we start off with a general discussion of beneficial insects and how to attract them. There is a wide variety of naturally occurring beneficial insects that can help keep pest insects under control if they are given a chance. Sadly, however, these insects are often misidentified and in some cases are mistaken for pests, leading to unnecessary and counter-productive insecticide applications. Attracting and retaining beneficial insects Like all insects, beneficial species have three basic needs – food, water, and shelter.…

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Beneficial of the Month – Ladybeetles/Ladybird beetles (Family Coccinellidae)

Part of our ongoing series, featuring insects that can help keep damaging pest insects under control. Sadly, these insects are often misidentified and mistaken for pests. Most people are familiar with the adults of these beetles, particularly the common red and black convergent ladybeetle. However, the egg, larval, and pupal stages are less well known, and the larval stages in particular are often mistaken for pests. In fact, it is the larva that is the most voracious stage of the life cycle. Keep in mind,…

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Beneficial of the Month – Assassin Bug

This month we start a new feature called “Beneficial of the Month” , featuring insects that can help keep damaging pest insects under control. Sadly, these insects are often misidentified and mistaken for pests. The following is taken from an article by Matt Simon, wired.com, 6.20.14 There are some 7,000 species of assassin bugs the world over, and each is equipped with nasty, highly hardened mouth parts called a rostrum. With this the assassin bug stabs through the exoskeleton of its prey—ants and termites and…

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