Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
As someone who lives and works on the land, you have probably encountered a wide range of bugs and insects around your home. From pesky bugs like mosquitos and flies to vital bugs like butterflies and bees, they all have a place on the homestead.
Some people have a knee-jerk reaction to every kind of creepy crawling insect, but the more that you learn about them and their characteristics, the more you will appreciate all of the hard work that they do for your land.
While you may still have a short list of bugs you can’t stand and kill immediately, it is essential to draw a line and give some space to these bugs you should not kill.
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The bee kingdom is very diverse in its variety and characteristics. You probably have honey bees, bumble bees, and other types on the farm. Honey bees are known for their amazing ability to pollinate and produce honey in a hive. If you don’t already practice beekeeping, seeing honey bees on the property is a good sign that there is a strong hive somewhere nearby.
Bumblebees are those plump bees that are easy to spot and hear, thanks to their large wing size. These bees may seem more of a threat, but they really are all about pollinating. Their large size makes them perfect for pollination, and any bumblebees found in the yard should be welcomed and admired.
That being said, there are plenty of insects that look like bees that are more of a menace. Hornets, wasps, and yellow jackets are flying insects that can quickly become a problem and are quite aggressive if provoked. Understanding the difference between bees and these angrier insects is vital, so you don’t kill the wrong one.
2. Braconid Wasp
While we did say that most wasps are a nuisance on the farm, there is one that is allowed to stay in the garden. A braconid wasp is a type of insect that looks more like a large ant rather than a typical wasp.
They are incredible at ridding gardens of tomato hornworms that can quickly devour every last tomato in the garden. The females lay their eggs inside the hornworm, which then hatch and eat the worm from the inside out. The best part of this wasp is that they don’t sting, so they are definitely a keeper!
3. Green Lacewing
Another aphid-eating insect that should definitely be on the bugs-you-should-not-kill list is the Green Lacewing. This delicate light green insect has a butterfly-like torso with transparent green wings that look like lace. They have bulging eyes and long feelers as well.
The green lacewing is a champ at devouring up to 200 aphids a week when it is larval stage alone. If you have a few of these guys around, your garden will be free of soft-bodied pests for a few weeks until they escape into cocoons.
4. Ground Beetle
Getting two jobs done at the same time is always better when it comes to life on the homestead. The ground beetle is just that kind of insect that offers below-ground pest management when it is young and then above-ground benefits as it ages.
The ground beetle isn’t the prettiest insect to find, but what it lacks in beauty, it makes up for in tenacity. They are known as generalist predators, meaning they aren’t too picky when it comes to food.
These little garden helpers spend winters in the ground and can live up to four years, giving you plenty of pest control assistance. A bonus point to this insect is that some species also eat seed pods from weeds, making them help out with weeding as well!
Encourage ground beetles in your garden by placing some large stones or rocks where they can hide out during the day and then feast at night.
Killing a cute little ladybug is just about the meanest thing you can do to the insect world. Their bright red body and black spots are a tell-tale sign that your garden and homestead are being rid of aphids, mites, and a bunch of insect eggs. Ladybugs are such a good insect to have that many people order them in the mail to release into the garden.
However, there is a sneaky imposter, the Asian Lady Beetle, that looks very similar to the ladybug. These guys are an invasive species and should be on your destroy list. Learn how to decipher between the two so that you aren’t hurting the ladybugs on the farm.
6. Praying Mantis
It is a common thought that praying mantis’ are some of the oddest looking insects out there. These large insects have long legs, long wings, creepy feelers, and a tiny alien-looking head to top it all off. While you may spot one of these creatures and immediately go into fight-or-flight mode, there is really no need to worry.
A praying mantis devours beetles, aphids, and caterpillars that could all destroy a garden in no time flat. Spotting these foes in the garden is a good sign despite their looks only a mother could love.
Most homesteaders have a love/hate relationship with spiders. None of us particularly like the feeling of a spider being close by, although we all know that they are there somewhere. Finding spiders on the farm is actually a good thing since they take care of so many pesky bugs that you don’t want anyway.
Look for intricate webs and take heed not to disturb a spiderweb if you can help it. While you don’t want to necessarily make the spider a pet, most spiders won’t cause a problem. If you live in an area where common deadly spiders are around, educate yourself and your family on how to spot them to eliminate the ones that are truly dangerous.
As you live and work on your land, you’ll come to notice a variety of insects and bugs that canvas the area. While we can all understand wanting to steer clear or kill those bugs that completely creep us out, learning how to appreciate the do-gooders in the insect kingdom is important.
Remember these bugs you should NOT kill so that your land and garden flourish in the future.
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J M Wells says
You can buy mantis and ladybug eggs from eBay. Spreading these in your garden a few times a growing season is a terrific way to do pest management.
Robert Gattman says
The click beetle is the adult stage of the wireworm, wireworms nearly destroyed my garden, not all beetles are “keepers” they propagate quite quickly and take a long time to irradicate
I never heard of that braconid wasp, nor have I ever seen one, but I’ll keep an eye out. Most of the others I knew about but thanks for the reminders.
One thing I’d have appreciated would be a pic of that Asian lady beetle, to discern the difference. Guess I can Duck Duck Go search for one, beats googling everything.
Thanks for the info, really. As a suburbanite, I don’t get a lot of vegetation education, not nearly enough.