When it comes to farming in Florida, there are two types of insects that land owners will encounter: 1) the good and 2) the bad. In the farming industry, the good insects are the beneficial type. They eat unwanted insects, help pollinate plants, and break down plant waste so that it can be recycled into the soil. The bad insects are the voracious, pestiferous species that eat plants and can single-handedly destroy your crops.
Beneficial insects are a good tool to use for pest management. A lack of healthy, beneficial insects can leave your farm vulnerable to an infestation of crop-destroying vermin. For these reasons, it is important for land owners and prospective buyers of farms for sale in Florida to understand which insects are beneficial to their crops. Below, we will describe a few of the insects that are most beneficial and how to attract them on your existing or future Florida farm.
Ladybugs – Ladybugs are one of the more recognized beneficial insects. Known for there colorful markings, adult and larvae ladybugs are especially useful for infestations of aphids, mites and other arthropods that feed on various plants. They also are helpful because they prey on insect eggs, soft-bodied beetles, and white flies. Ladybugs are attracted to flowering plants such as dill, corriander, buckwheat, and queen ann’s lace.
Green Lacewing Larvae – Green lacewing larvae are considered to be beneficial insects because they are known to be voracious predators of pestiferous insects such as aphids, insect eggs, leafhoppers, mealybugs, mites, psyllids, small caterpillars, thrips, and whiteflies. To attract adult green lacewing, it is suggested to use flowering plants such as daisy, cosmos, sunflowers, dandelion, and dill.
Praying Mantis – While praying mantis’ can be extremely beneficial for eliminating unwanted pests, their hearty appetite does not discriminate against wanted or unwanted insects and they will consume any insect that they can overpower, even if it is another praying mantis. For this reason, it is recommended to use this beneficial insect for pest management with care.
Parasitic Wasps – Parasitic wasps are good for combating against tomato hornworms, squash vine borers, cabbage loopers and bagworms. Adult females find hosts to lay their eggs on, near, or inside the host’s body. Upon hatching, the larvae feed off the host either externally or internally ultimately leading to the host’s death.
Nematodes – Similar to parasitic wasps, nematodes are tiny roundworms that parasite the larvae of over 250 different species including cutworms and Japanese beetle or flea beetle larvae. When using nematodes for pest control management, it is especially important to familiarize yourself with the species of nematode that you intend on using. While predatory nematodes are beneficial, there are certain species of nematodes that can be detrimental to your crops.