Inspired by the beneficial insect talk I attended at the Natural Gardener, I wanted to learn more about the creatures I have seen in my own yard.
The resident Anole saying hello from atop one of my citrus trees.
Below is a list of some of my garden helpers and some reasons why they’re good to have around.
From the Galveston Master Gardeners, “There’s no need to worry about this lizard as it is not harmful to humans or your pets. In fact, if you’ve seen these lizards in your yard or home, it most likely means you’re not using pesticides that could harm it. In fact, these lizards are beneficial, as they do feed on a wide variety of small insects such as crickets, cockroaches, moths, grubs, beetles, flies and grasshoppers.”
From the Galveston Master Gardeners, “They are carnivorous predators, attacking flying insects that get trapped in its web. Their orb web captures aphids, flies, grasshoppers, mosquitoes, wasps and bees.”
From Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, “Caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed. Adults feed on nectar from numerous wild flowers. The monarch butterflies are distasteful to birds because of chemicals obtained from caterpillar feeding on milkweed leaves.”
From Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, “Nymphs can be found in vegetation and hiding around underwater structures. Adults feed on insects such as mosquitoes, midges, flies and winged ants. They often follow the same path and return to a familiar perch.”
From the Galveston Master Gardeners, “Earthworms ingest soil and digest the organic matter as they tunnel, producing castings. The castings increase the nutrient level and organic level of the soil. Nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and other nutrients are produced daily for the use of plants. The equivalent of about 1/3 lb. of top grade fertilizer is produced per worm each year.”
From Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, “Immature stages of lightning beetles are predatory on other small insects, earthworms, slugs and snails. Adults of some species are also predatory. Larvae and adults are active at night (they are nocturnal), and immobilize their prey by injecting them with inject toxic digestive enzymes before sucking out the liquefied body contents.”
From the Galveston Master Gardeners, “[T]he Mediterranean gecko helps provide year-round insect pest control in our landscapes and homes by feeding on cockroaches and a wide variety of other insects.”
From Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, “Adults are poor fliers, active at night and feed on pollen, nectar and honeydew (the exudate of aphids and other sucking insects). Some species are predaceous as adults to a limited extent. The larvae, called “aphid lions”, are extremely carnivorous and predaceous on many soft-bodied insects and mites, including insect eggs, thrips, mealybugs, immature whiteflies and small caterpillars. Larvae have sickle-shaped jaws that contain tubes with which they can inject prey with a paralyzing venom and then suck out the body fluids. They can consume over 200 aphids or other prey per week.”
From Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, “Ground beetles are commonly encountered under stones, bark, logs and other debris laying on the ground. When disturbed, they run rapidly. At night they seek prey and some species are attracted to lights. Larvae are also encountered under objects or in burrows in the soil or under bark of trees. They feed on other insects both as larvae and adults. One group of species feeds on snails.”
From Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, “Mostly considered beneficial because they pollinate many fruits, vegetables and ornamental flowers; they produce honey, beeswax, pollen and royal jelly.”
From Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, “Adult flies can be found hovering around flowers, feeding on nectar and pollen. They are often attracted to honeydew covered leaves characteristic of infestations of sucking insects such as aphids. Legless larvae of these (Syrphinae) species are slug-like, adhering to leaf surfaces of infested plants while searching for aphids and other suitable prey (small caterpillars, thrips, etc.). Each larva can consume up to 400 aphids during development. Larvae of other species feed in the nests of ants, termites or bees, and others live in decaying vegetation and wood.”
From Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, “Larvae and adults feed primarily on aphids, but they will also feed on scales, eggs of caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects and mites. Adults occasionally feed on nectar, pollen and honeydew (exudate of aphids and other sucking insects).”
From Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, “Paper wasps prey on insects such as caterpillars, flies and beetle larvae which they feed to larvae. They actively forage during the day and all colony members rest on the nest at night.”
From Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, “Wingless nymphs and adults feed actively on many pest and beneficial insects, including each other! Older mantids can feed on flies, honey bees, crickets and moths. They are not effective for the control of aphids, mites or caterpillars.”
From herpsoftexas.org, “Bufo speciosus is nocturnal and burrows in the loose soil. It feeds on insects and other invertebrates.”