• May 2, 2021

Bugs and beneficial? Is it possible? Of course, it is. Beneficial bugs, also known as friendly insects, are used as biological pest management in organic farming. These bugs are organic farmers’ best friends and mother nature’s best pest control.

The crops in your organic farm are vulnerable to a variety of pests such as aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, thrips, scales, mites, caterpillars, cabbage worms, cucumber beetles, and mole crickets, etc.

Let’s have a look at the damage that pests may cause to organic crops.
  • Aphids and whiteflies feed on the sap of plants and reduce the yield of crops.
  • Spider mites suck the plant juices with their piercing mouthparts.
  • Cabbage worms stunt the growth of cabbage by eating the leaves between the midrib and large veins.
  • Caterpillars chew the leaves, shoots, and other plant parts including fruits.
As chemical pesticides are not used in organic farming, beneficial insects are introduced to the farm for biological pest control.
Here’s the list of beneficial insects/ friendly bugs that can do miracles for your farm.
  • Ladybugs: These are ¼ inches long bugs with orange to bright red colored wings and white spots on the thorax. They can consume 5000 aphids in a short time. They help your farm to get rid of aphids, mealybugs, asparagus beetle larvae, colorado potato beetle, lace bugs, whiteflies. To introduce them in your organic fields, purchase ladybugs and release them on the infested plants in the evening after watering.
  • Damsel bugs: These are soft-bodied insects with antennae, legs, narrow head, and bulging eyes. They are true bugs and feed on several mites species. Even the nymphs are predatory and prey on different insects. Plant cover crops such as dill, lavender, fennel, cilantro, or chamomile flowering plants near main crops to attract these bugs.
  • Chelonus blackburni (Cameron): It is a wasp that feeds on the larvae of other moths. It is used as the best biological pest control. To control the pest problem in organic farming, release Chelonus blackburni 15,000 to 20, 000 per hectare 15 to 30 days after sowing seeds.
  • Tachinid flies: These flies are parasites with ⅓ to 3/4 inches body length. They resemble small house fly. They lay eggs on the body of host insects. The larvae hatch and consume the body parts of the host. They can control cabbage worms, Colorado potato beetle, earwigs, squash worms, tobacco budworms. To attract these bugs, plant flowering herbs of the Aster family and the dill family along the sides of the main crop.
  • Parasitic wasps: These beneficial insects can paralyze a variety of garden pests. These are non-stinging parasitic wasps measuring 1/32 to 1/2 inches in length. They control aphids, moth caterpillars, sawfly larvae, whiteflies, and tomato hornworms. To attract these wasps, plant a variety of flowering plants such as alliums, yarrow, zinnia, thyme, lemon balm, cosmos.
  • Trichogramma wasps: These bugs are used to control moths and caterpillars in organic farms. They lay eggs in the eggs of moths and prevent them from hatching.They can controll with cane borers, cone borers, tomato hornworm, cabbage worm, fruit worms, cabbage loopers. As biological pest managment in the organic farms, around 40,000 to 50,000 eggs of trichogramma wasps are released per hectare 15 to 30 days after sowing seeds.
Along with these beneficial insects, green lacewings, earwigs, dragon flies, minute pirate bugs are also friendly bugs in organic farming. If you own an organic farm, it is recommended to incorporate the mentioned friendly bugs in an integrated pest management (IPM) program.