Surely you’ve heard the phrase “the enemy of my enemy is my friend?” Whether it originated in some Arabian land or China, it basically means that because two parties have a common enemy, they can work with each other to advance their universal goals.
In the world o’ bugs, same proverb applies. That’s why it may not behoove you to kill a harmless spider. Arachnids eat other bugs, either by luring them into their web or downright chasing the pests until they get their meal.
We’ve Got a Word for That
It’s known as Entomophobia or insectophobia. This is a fear of bugs and creepies from the smaller set of the animal kingdom. What happens to a person with this phobia? They get all huffy, have panic attacks or experience some type of emotional reaction.
There is a difference between a phobia and an aversion. Humans have had aversions to bugs for many millennia. It’s instinctive. But too much aversion can lead to a full-blown phobia. Two of the more popular ones are apiphobia (fear of bees) and myrmecophobia (fear of ants).
Fear Not (Most of the Time)
The plain fact is that 95% of insects should not be thought of as pests. They munch down on other insects and make tomatoes come into existence. Others collect nectar that another type of bee turns into honey for your morning tea.
Take lady bugs for instance. Their diet consists of mites, soft-bodied bugs and scales. Once source tells us that “a single lady bug may eat as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. On a daily basis, developing lady bug larvae consume more than 150 aphids, while adults eat about 50.”
Take your basic copy of “War and Peace.” Pretty thick book. That’s how many pages we could use if we were to list every beneficial bug on the planet. But the Maryland Department of Natural Resources gave us this extremely abbreviated run-down of some of the more common critters (and what they eat) that are actually quite an advantage to life on Earth:
- Praying Mantis – virtually any insect
- Predatory Wasps – virtually any insect
- Predatory Flies – caterpillars, beetle larvae, sawflies
- Wheel Bugs – caterpillars, moths, squash bugs, cucumber beetles
- Damselflies, Dragonflies – mosquitoes, gnats, flying insects
- Damsel Bugs – caterpillar eggs, flea hoppers, leafhoppers, spider mites
- Lacewings – aphids, caterpillars, whiteflies, thrips
- Assassin Bug – feed on beetles, caterpillars
- Ground Beetles – snails, slugs, root-feeding insects
Enemies of Enemies and How to Use Them
Before you freak the next time you see what you perceive as a pest, there are actually some good ways to control one type of pest with the problem child. This group of beasts are beneficial to your outdoor living space. So, here are some ways to encourage them to hang around:
- Load your property with blooming plants that do their thing from spring to winter. This makes pollen and nectar available to some of the more beneficial beasts.
- Create a small, controlled “wetland” away from any structures so there’s a source of water.
- We’re slaves to our lawnmowers and leaf blowers. Sometimes it wouldn’t hurt to set-up a little oasis – away from structures – where the good bugs can get some shelter. Ground covers are ideal for this.
Don’t Let the Other Army Win
Without keeping an eye on matters, things could get out-of-control. Don’t want that. But we have some suggestions to get the ball rolling:
- After you call us up, ask your Vulcan rep to do an inventory of the pests on your property. What kind of creatures are making your space their home.
- Be patient. Put-up with a couple of pests until the beneficial ones start showing up.
- Make sure that the pesticide is targeted toward the true enemy. No need for any beneficial bugs to be killed by friendly fire.
Remember that proverb at the beginning? Save as much ammo as you can by letting the strange bedfellows sweep the area for mines first.
Want to learn about more beneficial bugs? Check out our Pest Library!