Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Bugs, bugs and more bugs




Seems like a good time to dig out my notes from various talks on bugs and continue the theme for this week.

A typical back yard has about 1,00 species of bugs, most of which are harmless or even beneficial. We gardeners need them for pollination, to help decompose dead plants back into soil and to feed the birds. Pesticides kill the good along with the bad and are best avoided if possible.

Lady bugs are voracious eaters of aphids, scale, white fly, mealy bugs and other bugs. The lava of green lacewings eat other insects. Brown lacewings adult and juvenile eat other troublesome bugs. The mealy bug destroyer is in the same family and looks like a large hairy mealy bug.

We have parasitic wasps which lay their eggs in other bugs, they don’t sting and the mini ones will insert eggs into 100 or aphids. Another one lays eggs in the tomato hornworm. Parasitic wasps do not sting people.

All spiders are carnivorous, the black widow and brown recluse are the only two poisoness ones found in the US.

Toads and frogs feed on bugs at night, lizards during the day.

Bugs are not always what you expect either. Praying mantis feeds heavily on lady bugs and butterflies. And the much maligned cockroach is our biggest decomposer of dead things.

I’m told you can rid a place of cockroaches by putting some bread into a large jar. Roaches love yeast. Pour a can of beer over the bread. Slide a cut-off piece of panty hose over the outside of the jar so they can climb up the jar. Then put a little vaseline around the underside of the inside edge of the jar. The roaches climb up and in but can’t get out. The gentleman giving the talk told us he had rid and entire building of roaches in a week this way.

More information:
Biological Control a guide to Natural Enemies in North America
Beneficial Insects, Arthropods, and Disease Pathogens ( has images )
Clemson Entomology CE Sheets

Useful things:
Texas Bug Book: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly