Ask The Bugman

There are a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t spray toxic pesticides outside. It is not good for the ecosystem. There are numerous beneficial organisms in every yard and this is one reason, plus your safety, your family’s safety and the safety of any pets you have for not just spraying synthetic pesticides. Many insects and other arthropods can be beneficial in different ways. Some are pollinators and we certainly need them. Others feed on decaying or dead plant or animal matter and they are important as well. The most important, if you have a garden, are the predators who feed on plant pests.
Spiders, predatory mites and centipedes feed on numerous pests. It is hard to think of a centipede as beneficial, but the soil centipedes (Geophilomorpha) and stone centipedes (Lithobiomorpha) are very small centipedes that could not hurt a human or pet, but feed on numerous insects in a yard and many pest insects. Some beneficial insects include praying mantids (Mantidae), which prey on a lot of insects and even kill and eat black widow spiders. I have had people tell me they find more dead praying mantis in their yard then dead cockroaches after the exterminator has power sprayed the perimeter of their home.
Ladybird beetles (Coccinelidae), AKA ladybugs, are a major predator of aphids and other small pests. Ground beetles (Carabidae) are large, black beetles that feed on grubs and insect pupae. Many soft-winged flower beetles (Melyridae) are predators of pest species. Rove beetles (Staphylinidae) feed on grubs, insect pupae and root maggots, and in some cases, aphids. There are other beetles that are beneficial. Recently someone sent me a bunch of beetles he had “infesting” his desert willow. It turned out the beetles were soft-winged flower beetles in the genus Trichochrous and they were doing good work on the tree helping control real pests. If in doubt about a bug, get it identified, so you don’t kill something that is a good bug.
The hover fly (Syrphidae) feeds on nectar in the adult stage, but in some species, the larval stage is a predator of aphids. Bee flies (Bombyliidae) and flower flies (Tachinidae) also feed on nectar and pollen in the adult stage while their larvae are parasites of other insects, including pest species. Some true bugs (Hemiptera) are beneficial, such as assassin bugs (Reduviidae), which hide under leaves and ambush caterpillars. Minute pirate bugs (Anthocoridae) are very small and prey on thrips and other small pests. Some seed bugs (Lygaeidae) are beneficial. The big-eyed bugs (Geocoris spp.) will prey on various plant pests.
Lacewings (Planipennia) are predators of aphids, thrips, spider mites, leafhoppers and other small pests. There are many species of parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera), most very small, that will parasitize many pest insects and offer good control. There are many beneficial arthropods in our yards and we should try to protect them from pesticides.
The careless use of pesticides will also harm birds and lizards that feed on insects. If a bird eats a dead or dying insect that has been sprayed with pesticides, the bird can die or be unable to reproduce. Don’t let anyone generically spray pesticides around your home or spray for mosquitoes in your area.
You can contact me, and I will offer suggestions on how to control pests without using pesticides that will have a negative impact on the ecosystem. Pesticides are weapons of mass destruction and have no place in our homes or in the ecosystem. There are safe and effective ways to control pests. My email address is [email protected]. It is going to be a hot and buggy year. You don’t need toxic pesticides.

Richard Fagerlund