Beneficial insect

Beneficial insects (sometimes called beneficial bugs) are any of a number of species of insects that perform valued services like pollination and pest control. The concept of beneficial is subjective and only arises in light of desired outcomes from a human perspective. In farming and agriculture, where the goal is to raise selected crops, insects that hinder the production process are classified as pests, while insects that assist production are considered beneficial. In horticulture and gardening; pest control, habitat integration, and 'natural vitality' aesthetics are the desired outcome with beneficial insects.

Encouraging beneficial insects, by providing suitable living conditions, is a pest control strategy, often used in organic farming, organic gardening or integrated pest management. Companies specializing in biological pest control sell many types of beneficial insects, particularly for use in enclosed areas, like greenhouses.

Asteracea poster 3
Many plants in the family Asteraceae attract beneficial insects.


Bee boxes at an organic farm
Bee boxes at an organic farm
Lady bugs are a beneficial insect commonly sold for biological control of aphids.
Ladybirds are a beneficial insect commonly sold for biological control of aphids.
Rose with Mantis
A European mantis hunts for prey on a shrub rose.
Encarsia formosa, an endoparasitic wasp, is used for whitefly control
Encarsia formosa, an endoparasitic wasp, was one of the first biological control agents developed.

Some species of bee are beneficial as pollinators, although generally only efficient at pollinating plants from the same area of origin, facilitating propagation and fruit production for many plants. Also, some bees are predatory or parasitic, killing pest insects. This group includes not only honeybees, but also many other kinds that are more efficient at pollinating. Bees can be attracted by many companion plants, especially bee balm and pineapple sage for honeybees, or Apiaceae like Queen Anne's lace and parsley, for predatory bees.

Ladybugs are generally thought of as beneficial because they eat large quantities of aphids, mites and other arthropods that feed on various plants.

Other insects commonly identified as beneficial include:[1]

Attractive plants

Plants in the families Apiaceae and Asteraceae are generally valuable companions. Here are other plants that attract beneficial insects:

See also


  1. ^ "Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control", ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

Additional sources

  • "Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory". State of New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  • "Beneficial insect habitat in an apple orchard: Effects on pests". Research Brief #71. Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison. September 2004. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  • "Orchardists Install Beneficial Insect and Pollinator Habit". USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Archived from the original on February 21, 2013. Retrieved August 2, 2012.

External links

Acanthaspis pedestris

Acanthaspis pedestris is a species of assassin bug that functions as a beneficial insect in agricultural systems.

Aphodius fossor

Aphodius (Teuchestes) fossor is a species of dung beetle native to the Palaearctic, but is also widespread in North America following accidental introduction and naturalisation during European settlement. Both adults and larvae are coprophagous, differentiating resource use by respectively feeding on the liquid and fibrous fractions of herbivore dung. It can be readily collected from the dung of livestock, and other large mammals This species is known to support a number of key ecosystem services in cattle pastures.

Aphytis melinus

Aphytis melinus is an internal parasite of the California red scale, Aonidiella aurantii, which is a pest of citrus in California and elsewhere. This chalcid wasp drums its antennae against the scale insect to find out if it is healthy, if it is already parasitized, how large it is, etc., to decide how to use this prey. It has four choices (from worst to best): leave the scale to keep searching, feed directly on the scale, use the scale as a host for a male A. melinus, or use the scale for a female A. melinus.If it accepts the scale as a host, the female will lay an egg in the host. When the egg hatches, the larval wasp consumes the internal organs of the pest. When finished with its host, the larva enters the pupal, or cocoon, stage. From the pupa emerges the adult wasp, smaller than the scale it consumed, which goes off in search of more scale insects.This beneficial insect has controlled a key pest in citrus, significantly reducing pesticide use on citrus in California.

Beneficial organism

In agriculture and gardening, a beneficial organism is any organism that benefits the growing process, including insects, arachnids, other animals, plants, bacteria, fungi, viruses, and nematodes. Benefits include pest control, pollination, and maintenance of soil health. The opposite of beneficial organisms are pests, which are organisms deemed detrimental to the growing process.There are many different types of beneficial organisms as well as beneficial microorganisms. Also, microorganisms have things like salt and sugar in them. Beneficial organisms include but are not limited to: Birds, Bears, Nematodes, Insects, Arachnids, and fungi. The ways that birds and bears are considered beneficial is mainly because they consume seeds from plant and spread them through feces. Birds also prey on certain insects that eat plants and hinder them from growing these insects are known as non beneficial organisms. Nematodes are considered beneficial because they will help compost and provide nutrients for the soil the plants are growing in. Insects and arachnids help the growing process because they prey on non beneficial organisms that consume plants for food. Fungi help the growing process by using long threads of mycelium that can reach very long distances away from the tree or plant and bring water and nutrients back to the tree or plant roots.

Blattella asahinai

Blattella asahinai, the Asian cockroach is a species of cockroach that was first described in 1981 from insects collected on Okinawa Island, Japan.

California State University Northridge Botanic Garden

The California State University Northridge Botanic Garden or CSUN Botanic Garden is located in the northern San Fernando Valley, in the southeast section ("quadrant") of the California State University, Northridge campus in the community of Northridge in Los Angeles, California.

The 1.5-acre (0.61 ha) site includes a 1-acre (0.40 ha) botanical garden and approximately .5-acre (0.20 ha) of nursery, shadehouse, and greenhouse zones. The botanic gardens were established shortly after the campus was established in 1959, as a Valley branch of California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). It has grown through the administrations of succeeding San Fernando Valley State College and the present day CSUN Biology Department.


Capsus is a genus of mirid bugs belonging to the family Miridae, subfamily Mirinae.

Chilocorus stigma

Chilocorus stigma, commonly known as the twice-stabbed ladybug, is a native resident of the United States and Canada but does not live west of the Sierra Nevada.. It also has been introduced to Hawaii. It is shiny black, and there is one red spot on each elytron. The remainder of the body is black as well, but the abdomen is either yellow or red. It is sometimes confused with the "two-stabbed lady beetle", Chilocorus orbus, which is widespread in California.

Cyril Pemberton

Dr. Cyril Eugene Pemberton (born August 12, 1886, Los Angeles, California; died May 16, 1975, Diamond Head, Hawaii) was an American economic entomologist known for his work with sugar cane pests. He was the chief entomologist for the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association during the interwar years and a leading researcher into biological control of insect pests in sugar cane. Pemberton was influential in the introduction of the voracious cane toad from the Caribbean into Hawaii and Australia, where it became one of that continent’s worst invasive species.

Flea beetle

The flea beetle is a small, jumping beetle of the leaf beetle family (Chrysomelidae), that makes up the tribe Alticini which is part of the subfamily Galerucinae. Historically the flea beetles were classified as their own subfamily.

Though most tribes of the Galerucinae are suspect of rampant paraphyly in the present delimitation, the Alticini seem to form a good clade.

Harry Scott Smith

Harry Scott Smith (November 29, 1883 – November 28, 1957), an entomologist and professor at University of California, Riverside (UCR), was a pioneer in the field of biological pest control.


Hoverflies, sometimes called flower flies, or syrphid flies, make up the insect family Syrphidae. As their common name suggests, they are often seen hovering or nectaring at flowers; the adults of many species feed mainly on nectar and pollen, while the larvae (maggots) eat a wide range of foods. In some species, the larvae are saprotrophs, eating decaying plant and animal matter in the soil or in ponds and streams. In other species, the larvae are insectivores and prey on aphids, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects.

Aphids alone cause tens of millions of dollars of damage to crops worldwide every year; because of this, aphid-eating hoverflies are being recognized as important natural enemies of pests, and potential agents for use in biological control. Some adult syrphid flies are important pollinators.

About 6,000 species in 200 genera have been described. Hoverflies are common throughout the world and can be found on all continents except Antarctica. Hoverflies are harmless to most other animals, despite their mimicry of more dangerous wasps and bees, which wards off predators.

Index of gardening articles

This is an alphabetical index of articles related to gardening.

List of companion plants

This is a list of companion plants. Many more are in the list of beneficial weeds. Companion plants assist in the growth of others by attracting beneficial insects, repelling pests, or providing nutrients, shade, or support. They can be part of a biological pest control program.

Natural landscaping

Natural landscaping, also called native gardening, is the use of native plants, including trees, shrubs, groundcover, and grasses which are indigenous to the geographic area of the garden.

Orthodera novaezealandiae

Orthodera novaezealandiae, known as the New Zealand mantis or the New Zealand praying mantis, is a species of praying mantis which is, as both the scientific name and common names suggest, indigenous and endemic to New Zealand.

Peristenus pseudopallipes

Peristenus pseudopallipes is a parasitoid, which lives within a host as part of its life cycle. It then emerges from the host organism, killing the host.

Stagmomantis limbata

Stagmomantis limbata, common name bordered mantis or Arizona mantis, is a species of praying mantis native to North America. This beneficial insect is green or beige in color and grows up to around 3 inches long.

of insects
in culture


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