A new book called Good Garden Bugs: Everything You Need to Know about Beneficial Predatory Insects by Dr. Mary Gardiner, an entomologist at Ohio State University, offers gardeners an easy-to-follow reference on beneficial insects that provide pest control by eating the bad bugs in the garden.
Wildlife in the garden — especially insects — can offer a natural alternative to pesticides. From mantids to beetles to wasps, spiders, and everything in between, Dr. Gardiner tells how to identify the beneficial bugs, how to attract them, and how to work with them.
“Each chapter describes important families, genera, and species within an order or class of predators and parasitoids,” said Dr. Gardiner. “This 176-page book contains more than 200 photos, and my aim was to include the most common and interesting species one might come across. I utilized the resource bugguide.net extensively in narrowing down what to include. I examined the photographs submitted to bugguide for each group of natural enemies to determine which taxa had the most submissions, and used this as a metric of commonness and/or level of interest people had for that particular creature. I was also able to work with a great illustrator, Michael Cooley, who provided 20 drawings for the book. Michael was able to illustrate natural enemy morphology and life cycles that added significantly to the chapters. He also provided some excellent depictions of habitat management strategies using flowering plants to enhance the resources available to natural enemies within vegetable gardens as part of a chapter focused on biological control.”
In addition to learning how to identify the beneficial insects, readers will also learn how to attract them.
“I don’t think gardeners realize how many natural enemy arthropods feed on pollen and nectar,” Dr. Gardiner said. “Nearly all gardeners know that bees visit flowers to feed on and collect these resources, but so do many beetles, true bugs, lacewings, predatory wasps, parasitoid wasps, and flies, and even spiders. Good Garden Bugs includes a chapter which overviews how to design a natural-enemy friendly landscape.”
In addition, Dr. Gardiner explains entomological concepts such as gradual and complete metamorphosis, the differences between predators and parasitoids, and the principles of biological control.
Read more about Dr. Gardiner at: