Tag Archive: Beneficial

Beneficial Parasitic Wasps in Peanuts

Beneficial Parasitic Wasps in Peanuts

Insect management tends to focus on pests that cause damage and reduce yields, but one aspect of integrated pest management (IPM) includes the knowledge of beneficial insects that naturally control those pests.  In peanuts, there are several different beneficial parasitoids that can be found preying on pest insects in the southern U.S.  A parasitoid is an organism that lives on or in a host organism and ultimately kills the host. Evidence of some of these beneficial parasitoids that might be seen in the field are cocoons of parasitic wasps. Often a white mass of cocoons can be seen on the leaves of plants (Image 1).

Image 1. Beneficial Parasitic Wasp cocoon on peanuts in Holmes County. Photo Credit: Kalyn Waters

The tiny wasp lays its eggs in a caterpillar, the eggs hatch and then feed on its living host (caterpillar). The larvae later emerge from the caterpillar and spin the silken cocoons (Image 1), before completing their development and forming into adults. These Parasitic Wasps have been seen attacking cutworms in peanut fields. The presence of cocoons on leaves is first noticed in mid to late June.

For more information please contact your county agent, or follow these links to publications on this topic:

 

PG

Author: Kalyn Waters – kalyn.waters@ufl.edu

Holmes County Extension Director working in the areas of Agricultural Management in row crop, natural resources, livestock and forage production. Specialized in Beef Cattle Production in the area of reproductive, nutritional and finical management.
http://holmes.ufl.ifas.edu

Kalyn Waters

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/07/beneficial-parasitic-wasps-in-peanuts/

Benefit from Beneficial Insects

Adult Ladybug. Photo Credit: James Castner University of Florida

A number of summers ago, I noticed whiteflies on a confederate rose plant in my landscape. I considered using an insecticide to control the whiteflies but decided against doing so after taking a closer look. What I found was a population of ladybugs – eggs, larvae, pupae and adults.

Ladybug adults and larvae eat whiteflies, as well as other soft-bodied insects such as aphids. So, I waited to see what would happen.

At first I was seeing mostly adult whiteflies, which look like tiny white moths. Adult whiteflies mate and then lay eggs on the underside of leaves. The eggs hatch into flat translucent scale-like nymphs that suck the “juice” from the underside of the leaves.

Eventually, some of the leaves developed a black coating called sooty mold. As certain insects (primarily aphids, some scales and whiteflies) feed, they excrete plant sap that coats the leaves. Sooty mold then grows on this sugary sap. It’s not a pathogen. It just makes the leaves look ugly.

Knowing that the whiteflies would not kill the confederate rose, I was willing to tolerate the sooty mold and allow the ladybug population to build.

Allowing whiteflies to live on your plants may not always be the best option. But in order to have beneficial insects in your landscape, there must be some “bad” insects for them to eat.

Insects such as ladybugs, lacewings and praying mantises eat many pest insects. Encouraging these beneficial insects can allow you to reduce the amount of pesticides applied.

It’s important to learn to recognize the adult and immature stages of these beneficial insects. Ladybugs have larvae that look nothing like

Ladybug larva. Photo credit: Aristizabal University of Florida

the adults. Some ladybug larvae look like small orange and black alligators. Others may resemble mealybugs. Many gardeners that would never kill adult ladybugs mistake their larvae as pests and kill them with insecticides.

The following UF/IFAS Extension website will help you learn to recognize many of our beneficial insects. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_beneficial_insects

Once you find beneficial insects in your landscape, reduce or eliminate the use of insecticides. When an insecticide is needed, use environmentally friendly options such as insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils and products that contain Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

Sometimes a heavy stream of water from a water hose is all that is needed to remove pest insects from plants and reduce their numbers to an acceptable population.

Remember, leaving a few pest insects is a great way to attract beneficial insects. Tolerating a minor infestation and a little plant damage will benefit the helpful insects, your pocketbook and the environment.

PG

Author: Larry Williams – llw5479@ufl.edu

Larry Williams is the County Extension Director and Residential Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Okaloosa County.

Larry Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/05/12/benefit-from-beneficial-insects/

Beneficial Ants

Believe it or not, there is a beneficial ant that is found in many landscapes. If you see an interesting mound shaped like a small volcano, you likely have the pyramid ants. These ants form small nests in sandy soils and the mound will have a small opening in the very center.

Pyramid ant mound. Photo by Beth Bolles

Pyramid ant mound, about 5 inches across. Photo by Beth Bolles

Pyramid ants are not aggressive and do not sting. They are fast moving over the ground building the mound and searching for food. Ants will collect honeydew from other insects and the beneficial part is that ants hunt live insects including winged fire ants. By allowing the pyramid ants to remain in parts of your landscape, you may reduce the numbers of fire ants that can establish in that area.

When you see the distinctive pyramid ant mounds, remember the beneficial role they play in keeping pest species in check. Keep any baits away from these areas to protect the pyramid ants.

A group of small mounds. Photo by Beth Bolles

A group of small mounds. Photo by Beth Bolles

PG

Author: Beth Bolles – bbolles@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Escambia County

Beth Bolles

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/05/06/beneficial-ants/

Stop and Take Notice of Beneficial Insects

Stop and Take Notice of Beneficial Insects

This spring, most garden plants are putting on lots of tender new growth. The lush foliage is like a free lunch to aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs and thrips. Before broad spectrum insecticides are used to control these pests, consider the impact on beneficial insects. Insecticides that don’t measurably harm predatory beneficial insects include insecticidal soaps and all season horticultural oils, which kill soft-bodied insect pests at application. Here are several common beneficial predatory and parasitic insects that help keep the pests at bay.

 

Assassin Bug Zelus longipes

Assassin bugs are predators of several leaf feeding and sap sucking insects including the fall army worm and the Asian citrus psyllid. They trap their prey by holding onto it with their forelegs and secreting enzymes into the prey to dissolve the interior tissue. Then they ingest the dissolved tissue.

 

Adult female milkweed assassin bug, Zelus longipes Linnaeus, feeding on a cornsilk fly, Euxesta stigmatias Loew. Credit: Megha Kalsi, University of Florida

Adult female milkweed assassin bug, Zelus longings Linnaeus, feeding on a cornsilk fly, Euxesta stigmatias Loew. Credit: Megha Kalsi, University of Florida

 

Lady Bug or Lady Beetle

These insects most commonly feed on aphids, most insect eggs, whiteflies, small caterpillars, scale and mealybugs. They provide a measurable benefit to gardens since they are such generalized feeders. The Lady Beetle larva look substantially different  from the adult stage.

Third instar larvae of Hippodamia convergens. Photograph by Luis F. Aristizábal, University of Florida

Third instar larvae of Hippodamia convergens. Photograph by Luis F. Aristizábal, University of Florida

Newly emerged adult Hippodamia convergens showing typical body markings. Photograph by Luis F. Aristizábal, University of Florida.

Newly emerged adult Hippodamia convergens showing typical body markings. Photograph by Luis F. Aristizábal, University of Florida.

 

Soldier Bug

A different but closely related species of the stink bug, this predator uses its piercing / sucking mouthparts to feed on larval beetles and caterpillars.

Dorsal view of an adult spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say), feeding on a mating pair of sumac flea beetles, Blepharida rhois (Forster) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Photograph by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

Dorsal view of an adult spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say), feeding on a mating pair of sumac flea beetles, Blepharida rhois (Forster) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Photograph by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

 

Lacewings

The green and brown lacewing is often found around aphid infestations. The larva is the major predator, they make the biggest dent on aphid populations. In addition to aphids, lacewings also feed on scale, mealybugs and several species of insect eggs.

 

Adult brown lacewing (Neuroptera: Hemerobiidae). Photograph by University of Florida.

Adult brown lacewing (Neuroptera: Hemerobiidae). Photograph by University of Florida.

Larva of a brown lacewing (Neuroptera: Hemerobiidae) preparing to attack and feed on an aphid. The black-colored aphid to the right was probably parasitized by a wasp. Photograph by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

Larva of a brown lacewing (Neuroptera: Hemerobiidae) preparing to attack and feed on an aphid. The black-colored aphid to the right was probably parasitized by a wasp. Photograph by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Predatory Gall Midges

This aphid predator is easily overlooked because it is so small, and resembles the flower fly. They also feed on scale, thrips and mites.

 

Adult of the predatory gall-midge, Feltiella acarisuga (Vallot). Photograph by David R. Gillespie, Agassiz.

Adult of the predatory gall-midge, Feltiella acarisuga (Vallot). Photograph by David R. Gillespie, Agassiz.

Larva of the predatory gall-midge, Feltiella acarisuga (Vallot). Photograph by Lance S. Osborne, University of Florida.

Larva of the predatory gall-midge, Feltiella acarisuga (Vallot). Photograph by Lance S. Osborne, University of Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flower Flies (Hover Flies)

Flower Flies actually resemble honeybees or bumblebees. People often run from them! The adult is an important pollinator for many crop species and feeds on nectar and aphid honeydew. This time it’s the larva which is predatory and is a voracious feeder of aphids. Large concentrations of larvae substantially reduce aphid populations in aphid infested gardens and fields.

 

Larva of Allograpta obliqua (Say), a hover fly. Photograph by James F. Price, University of Florida.

Larva of Allograpta obliqua (Say), a hover fly. Photograph by James F. Price, University of Florida.

An adult male hover fly, Allograpta obliqua (Say). Graphic by Division of Plant Industry.

An adult male hover fly, Allograpta obliqua (Say). Graphic by Division of Plant Industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parasitic Flies

There are many types of parasitic flies which parasitize a variety of insect pest species.  They may inject their eggs into the host, or lay the egg on the surface of their host.  Usually they are very small and not noticeable.

 

Parasitic Wasps

Most parasitic wasp species are tiny, fast and hard to notice. The average gardener is not aware of their rather plentiful existence.  They are a common killer of grubs, caterpillars, whiteflies and aphids. They either insert their eggs into the organism or lay eggs on the surface of their host.

 A group of adult Cotesia congregata (Say) wasps feeding on honey solution placed on the underside of a tomato leaf. Photograph by Justin Bredlau, Virginia Commonwealth University.

A group of adult Cotesia congregata (Say) wasps feeding on honey solution placed on the underside of a tomato leaf. Photograph by Justin Bredlau, Virginia Commonwealth University.

 

Big Eyed Bugs and Minute Pirate Bugs

While big eyed bugs and minute pirate bugs are not related, they perform similar functions in gardens and agricultural systems by feeding on chinch bug nymphs, psocids, leafhoppers, aphids, thrips, and mites. They are found in variety of ecosystems and do their job anonymously.

Adult bigeyed bug, Geocoris sp., feeding on a whitefly nymph. Photograph by Jack Dykinga, USDA

Adult bigeyed bug, Geocoris sp., feeding on a whitefly nymph. Photograph by Jack Dykinga, USDA

The minute pirate bugs are black with white markings. They prey on many small insects and eggs, including thrips. About 70 species exist in North America. Photograph by James Castner, University of Florida

The minute pirate bugs are black with white markings. They prey on many small insects and eggs, including thrips. About 70 species exist in North America. Photograph by James Castner, University of Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Natural Enemies and Biological Control. Publication #ENY-822

Featured Creatures. UF / IFAS Entomology and Nematology

EDIS: Beneficial Insects

 

 

PG

Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/07/stop-and-take-notice-of-beneficial-insects/

Tools for Trapping Pests and Attracting Beneficial Insects

Russ Mizell, UF/IFAS Professor of Entomology, NFREC Quincy

Florida’s climate provides a long and often year-round growing season. Wherever crops are grown they attract insect and disease pests. As a result, growers are confronted with two major problems: detecting when pests arrive and determining how to manage them. All organisms have their own natural enemies and so do insect pests. They are attacked by many parasites, predators and pathogens. So how can we detect pests early and how do we get their natural enemies to work better for us? These questions are at the core of Integrated Pest Management. When there are attractants and lots of natural enemies, the job is a lot easier, but when these tools don’t exist, alternative methods are needed.

Figure 1

Figure 1: On the left, a trap to attract beneficial insects together with, on the right, a sentinel citrus plant seated in the soil to stabilize the bucket. The white PVC pipe is a watering tube for the citrus.

There are some new multifunctional tactics that have been developed that will work for certain pest and beneficial insects. Let’s say that you have a rose bush or a garden infested with aphids, whiteflies or other soft bodied pests, and want to suppress them by manipulating their natural enemies. The first tool for attracting and concentrating beneficial insects is a yellow object (use a paint like “Safety Yellow #7543” from a big box store) optimally in the shape of a 3” x 36” mailing tube or a 7 gallon plant pot placed on a pole about 3-4’ above the ground or over your infested plant (Figure 1). This trap will attract many lady beetle species from a longer distance away and increase their numbers at the trap by 2-5 times. Other beneficial predacious insects such as green lacewings are also attracted. If you add a sugar solution made of 150 grams of table sugar (3/4 cup sugar) per liter of water (4 cups water) directly to the plant, that will stimulate the arriving predators to remain on the plant or in the area longer.

Figure 2

Figure 2: Separate display of the parts of the sentinel plant platform. Seven gallon bucket to the left, 5 gallon planter bucket to the right showing the black aquaponic or hydroponic container and water wicking material at the bottom.

The second tool is called a “sentinel plant platform.” It has multiple uses for monitoring and manipulating insects and their natural enemies. The apparatus costs about $ 10-$ 15.00. For those insect pests that either do not produce, or the attractant remains unidentified, the host plant may be used to produce the natural conditions – visual and chemical – that attract pests. Figure 2 shows a system designed to hold a plant and maintains it. There are two buckets, the larger outside one is a 7 gallons, and the inner one is a 5 gallons. The inside bucket has a hole in the bottom large enough to enable fitting the 6” wide aquaponic pot down to the collar. The figure shows two strips of towel material threaded into the bottom pot as a wick. The towel material doesn’t last long, so it is better if pieces of rope with a cotton core are used. Ropes should be long enough to reach from the bottom of the 7 gal pot to its top or the top of the soil in the 5 gallons. A ¼” drain hole is placed into the outside 7 gallon bucket just below the point where the small pot fits into the 5 gallon bucket ,so that the plant roots are not continuously in water.

Plants are planted into the sentinel platform by pulling the two ropes up into the soil such that they are in the water and the soil. If you add a small amount of Terra-sorb™ to the soil it will help maintain moisture around the plant ,and prevent evaporation and drying. Fertilize as needed with liquid fertilizer solution. You may also add a piece of 1-2” PVC pipe as a watering tube, but is not necessary. Because the platform is mobile and will last without tending for 7-14 days, depending upon the plants you use, location, rainfall, and time of year, it is a multifunctional tool and can be placed strategically to perform its function.

The platform can also be coupled with other tools (Figure 1) such as using the sugar water, a yellow sticky trap to capture the pests, or using yellow pots, as many plant feeding insects are attracted to yellow. By using plants such as sunflowers, buckwheat, sorghum or millet you can turn the sentinel platform into a stink bug monitoring device or a trap crop (Trap Cropping System to Suppress Stink Bugs in the Southern Coastal Plain). One might also spray some insecticide on the sentinel plant, for an attract-and-kill device, or spores of a fungal pathogen, that will infect the responding target pests and initiate a disease epidemic.  Another longer term option is the fact that pollinators are negatively affected by the loss of habitat and the native plant species they depend on. Such necessary native plants may be added back into the landscape, to augment pollinators at key production times. Homeowners, organic and conventional producers can use these tools. They work!

For more information on this topic please see the following publications:

Trap Cropping System to Suppress Stink Bugs in the Southern Coastal Plain

Intercropping, Crop Diversity and Pest Management

Trap Crops for Management of Stink and Leaffooted Bugs

 

PG

Author: Russ Mizell – rfmizell@ufl.edu


http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu

Russ Mizell

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/12/20/tools-for-trapping-pests-and-attracting-beneficial-insects/

Earthworms aren’t the only beneficial composters!

Earthworms aren’t the only beneficial composters!

I started a little vermiculture bin year before last with one cup of red wigglers from the local bait shop. I carefully sorted my garbage so there was no grease or animal protein in the bin and counted the worms every Saturday. Yes, I was a little obsessive about it.

 Sixth instar larvae of the black soldier fly Credit: Bianca Diclaro, University of Florida Credit: Bianca Diclaro, University of Florida

Sixth instar larvae of the black soldier fly
Credit: Bianca Diclaro, University of Florida
Credit: Bianca Diclaro, University of Florida

The initial population was twenty-four and during the cold month it had gotten down to twelve. The bin finally rebounded. The last time I counted, there were 499 worms. I spent an hour looking for another to make a round 500 but gave up. I decided my bin must be doing all right and let it drift into a period of what I assumed was benign neglect.

The next time I stirred up the bin I saw large flattened maggots that made me think I’d made a BIG mistake. The wigglers were still working, but I was mortified they might be in serious danger of compost collapse.

 

AdultBSF

Adult Black Soldier Fly Credit: Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida

 

 

A little research revealed they are the larvae of the Black Soldier Fly (BSF).  Being a fly it lacks a stinger.

Turns out the fly is an outstanding composter of animal manure and animal protein as well as a deterrent to nuisance flies. It is being used on a industrial scale to turn offal into compost/fertilizer and the larvae make great fish or poultry feed.

They had come to my worm bin because I had let it get wetter than the perfect red wiggler moisture level and because I had become lax in my garbage sorting. Instead of a problem, I had a bonus.

Mature larvae move to a dryer space to pupate. This tendency allows backyard MacGyvers to assemble a bin with a spout to deliver the larvae directly to the chicken yard or fish pond. What looks like an icky monster is really another natural wonder with lots of applications.

Check these links for more information on the Black Soldier Fly and how it can complement your red wigglers.

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in830
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/beneficials/beneficial-51_black_soldier_fly.htm

PG

Author: Jed Dillard – dillardjed@ufl.edu

Jefferson County Livestock and Natural Resources Agent with a commercial cow/calf background. My degree is in animal breeding, but I do more work wth forage systems. Long time clover/legume booster for both livestock and wildlife

Jed Dillard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/10/08/earthworms-arent-the-only-beneficial-composters/

Composting Recycles Yard Waste, Makes It Beneficial

Composting Recycles Yard Waste, Makes It Beneficial

With all of the rainy weather Northwest Florida has been having this summer, plenty of excess yard debris is littering our yards. Don’t put it in the landfill, Compost It !

Compost Pile

Compost Pile

Compost is used primarily in bed preparation to improve the soil and can even be used in preparing potting mixes. Partially composted material also can be used as mulch. And since homemade compost is free, it helps reduce the cost of gardening – which means more money left over to buy plants.

Returning these organic materials to the garden maintains natural biological cycles and is an ecologically sensible means of recycling organic waste. It is never very efficient nor environmentally friendly to pile up  leaves and grass clippings in bags on the curb to be hauled away to rapidly filling landfills and then go out and buy peat moss that has been dug up and shipped in from Canada.

compost_bin

Build Your Own!

Compost piles should be located in a convenient, but out-of-the-way, location. A source of water nearby is helpful. Avoid locating the pile against fences or other structures made out of wood, because the constant moisture can cause decay. Make the pile about 3 feet wide by 3 feet deep by 3 feet wide to 5 by 5 by 5 in size. Anything smaller will not decompose as well, and larger piles are more difficult to work.

Although compost can be made just by stacking organic matter in a pile, most gardeners prefer to enclose the pile in a bin. There are a number of commercial bins on the market, or you can make your own very easily. A 15-foot-long piece of wire fencing material bent into a circle and fastened with a few pieces of wire is inexpensive, easy to build and works well. Avoid using untreated wood to build the bin, because that could lead to termite problems.

Commercial Compost Tumbler

Commercial Bins Are Available

 Compost can be created simply by piling up organic matter and allowing natural decomposition to take place (this is sometimes called passive composting). There is nothing really complicated about it, although using this method requires patience. Depending on circumstances, it may take six to 12 months for the organic matter to fully compost.

Typically, composting uses various techniques to speed up the natural breakdown of yard waste. It’s important to remember that raw organic material is converted into compost by the action of fungi and bacteria. In active composting, processes are set in place to make these organisms work faster and more efficiently.

These fungi and bacteria require adequate nitrogen, oxygen and moisture to decompose organic matter rapidly. The composting process attempts to provide these requirements, and the better those essentials are supplied, the faster the process will occur. Shredding or finely chopping materials also greatly speeds up the process.

As the microbes decompose the organic materials, temperatures within the pile may approach 160 degrees at the center. When properly done, this process produces a rich, earthy smell, not the bad odors many gardeners fear will occur. In addition, properly maintained compost piles will not attract and harbor vermin such as rats.

Compost Steam

During Decomposition Compost Piles Get Very Warm

Try to include a variety of materials to encourage rapid decomposition. The more types of acceptable materials that are added the better the composting process.

Brown materials, such as brown leaves or chipped branches and stumps, are relatively low in nitrogen. Adding a commercial fertilizer or an organic fertilizer (such as blood meal) that contains nitrogen encourages rapid, thorough decomposition when these types of materials provide the bulk of what is being composted. A light sprinkling is applied over each 8- to 12-inch layer of organic matter as the pile is built.

If the pile is mostly green matter, turn it weekly to keep it loose and oxygenated.

Organic materials that can be used for composting include fallen leaves, grass clippings, shredded hedge clippings, raw vegetable and fruit trimmings, coffee grounds, dead houseplants and old flower arrangements. Manures, such as cow, horse, rabbit or poultry manures, make excellent additions to the compost and are relatively rich in nitrogen.

On the other hand, never put cooked foods, grease, meat, seafood scraps, fat or dog or cat droppings in the pile.

Oxygen is provided by enclosing the pile in a bin that has sides with a lot of ventilation openings, which allow air to move in and out. Turning the pile occasionally is labor intensive, but it ensures the pile is well aerated.

During dry weather it may be necessary to water the pile to maintain adequate moisture levels. Dry organic matter will not decompose. The pile should stay moist, but not constantly soggy. A pile that stays too wet does not contain enough oxygen and may produce sour odors. If this happens, turning the pile will correct the problem.

Watering Compost

Water May Need to be Added During Dry Periods

As materials compost they lose more than half of their volume. When compost is ready for use, it should be dark brown and crumbly with much, or all, of the identity of the original material lost.

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

The time it takes to finish varies depending on the materials used, how finely they were chopped and how well the appropriate moisture and oxygen levels were maintained. Two to six months is typical, but it can occur much faster. For more information, check out this great UF / IFAS publication on composting.

PG

Author: Robert Trawick – rob.trawick@ufl.edu

I’m the horticulture extension agent in Jackson County, Florida. I received my B.S. and M.S. degrees at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. Previously I was the residential horticulture extension agent for Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA and Lafayette, LA.

Robert Trawick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/08/05/composting-recycles-yard-waste-makes-it-beneficial/