PUBLISHED ON February 1st, 2012
Roses are red, aphids are green, but not all bugs are unworthy of esteem. This could be the Valentine’s Day poem floating around your local pest control company. For those who don’t provide green pest control, all bugs may seem equally repellant, but the truth is that some insects are worthy of appreciation, admiration and, dare we say, even love this Valentine’s Day.
Below, we list 10 pests that are actually beneficial. Don’t kill these insects – send them chocolates instead. Write them sonnets. Serenade them with string quartets. Or, at the very least, woo them into peaceful co-existence.
1. Ladybugs. If you hope to present your true love with a dozen homegrown roses this Valentine’s Day, ladybugs can help. They’re beloved by gardeners around the world for their voracious appetite for aphids. Certainly, aphids aren’t damaging enough to necessitate a call for residential pest control. Still, they give most people the heebie-jeebies – not exactly the ideal emotion for the year’s most romantic holiday. Keep your rose bushes delightfully aphid-free by encouraging ladybug populations.
2. Dragonflies. Picture this: You’ve just finished a delectable picnic dinner, the special Valentine’s wine is making things look a bit rosy, and your beloved is giving you that old come-hither look, when SLAP! A rude mosquito-induced interruption sends you inside, to far less romantic environs. Nothing kills a romantic mood quite like a swarm of miniature flying vampires. The plus side? Nothing kills mosquitoes quite like dragonflies. These beneficial pests hover near open water, where mosquitoes tend to breed. So, if you must have that romantic water feature in your backyard romantic retreat, practice green pest control by allowing dragonflies to flourish. That way, nearby mosquito populations will be kept in check.
3. Honeybees. Flowers and romance will always be linked. Yet perhaps as we acknowledge our gratitude for the blooms, we should thank the pollinators that make blossoming profusions possible. Honeybees are responsible for the pollination of countless flowers and crops in the United States. Moreover, if you plan to give your honey-pie some honey this Valentine’s Day, you’ll have the honeybees to thank.
4. Fireflies. Falling in love can seem like discovering your own private glow – just ask fireflies. These perpetually love-struck insects use their glowing rear ends to attract mates. Furthermore, fireflies help set the perfect romantic mood for twilight rendezvous.
5. Crickets. If fireflies light the stage for love, crickets provide the soundtrack. Male crickets make aural overtures of love. By rubbing their legs together, they also sound a warning note to competing males. Lastly, male crickets sing a special celebratory song after mating.
6. Green Lacewings. Although few people are familiar with these unsung insect heroes, green lacewings are beneficial in several ways. First, they eat irritating pests including aphids, thrips, whiteflies and mites. Second, green lacewings are powerful pollinators. Think of them as your gardening MVPs.
7. Praying Mantis. Because they devour leafhoppers, caterpillars, mosquitoes, mites, aphids and insect eggs, praying mantis are the darlings of green thumbs everywhere. Like many of the pests on this list, praying mantis can be ordered through gardening catalogues or your local pest control company.
8. Minute Pirate Bug. The minute pirate bug’s personal ad might look something like this: “Six legs to wrap around you tight. I look good in black and white. Call me and we can chow down on some pest eggs together.” Gardeners adore the minute pirate bug because it eliminates pests in their early stages of development.
9. Spined Soldier Bug. With its long proboscis and spiked shoulder protrusions, the spined soldier bug could give your sweetheart a fright. Sooth his or her nerves with the idea that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and for plant lovers, this is a gorgeous bug because it eats loopers, unbeneficial worms and beetles.
10. Mite Predator. The mite predator, or phytoseiulus persimilis as it is known to entomologists, keeps things simple. As its name implies, it offers one major service: eating all stages of mites. This is a handy form of residential pest control.
Whether you want to create a beautiful outdoor environment for wooing your sweetheart, or you just want to combat irritants in your garden with green pest control, the bugs listed above are worthy of your admiration this Valentine’s Day – and throughout the year.