ABOUT BENEFICIAL INSECTS

These insects perform valued services like pollination and pest control. Not all bugs are bad — of the nearly 1 million known insect species, only 1 to 3 percent are ever considered pests. 

Beneficial pests help our environment and eco-systems by:

  • Preying on pest insects — Beneficial insects hunt and eat pests that are nuisance or dangerous. 

  • Parasitizing pest insects — These insects lay their eggs inside pests or their eggs, which helps to drive down populations.

  • Pollination of plants — Nearly 200,000 species of animals are known to pollinate world plants and crops, the vast majority of these pollinators are insects. It is believed 3/4 of the world's flowering plants and about 35 percent of the world's food crops need animals to pollinate them.

  • Develop food and textiles — without bees and silkworms, there would be no honey, no natural wax and no silk or other textiles.

  • Indicators of pollution — Dobsonflies and Caddisflies are bellwether insects for indicating if water is fresh and non polluted. They won't hatch in polluted waters.

In many cases, you can thank beneficial insects for keeping your garden plants looking healthy and your home free from some more-dangerous insect predators. These species of insects are nature's pest control and its front lines of support on agribusiness.

BUMBLEBEE

Bumblebees are important and effective agricultural pollinators who visit twice the number of flowers per minute as honey bees. Their declining numbers in North America, Asia and Europe is a cause of concern for worldwide food production.

Bumblebees are social insects, forming colonies with a single queen. They nest in the ground and may take over mice or rat holes. With only about 50 members, bumblebee colonies are smaller than those of honey bees.

Although they tend to avoid humans and animals, female bumblebees can sting repeatedly. Their stingers do not have barbs, so they will not pull out of the abdomen following a single sting.

Axiom does not treat for bumblebees. See why here.

CADDISFLY

Fly fishermen try to imitate nature by tying elaborate flies that look like the caddisfly, which inhabits the banks and waters of streams, rivers and ponds.

 

Caddisfly larvae live in elaborately built "cases" which are spun from silk and are stuck to the bottom of a stream bed. Caddisflies remain in larvae stage for up to 2 years, during which they develop various feeding strategies: some are predators; others are leaf shredders; and some collect particles from the water. 

Normally large numbers of caddisflies hatch at once, attracting their natural predators: Birds, bats, frogs, salamanders and spiders. Most adults are short-lived, living no more than 30 days, during which they do not feed. 

DOBSONFLY

The male dobsonfly certainly looks imposing at 5 inches long, with tusk-like mandibles and arching antennae, but realistically there is no reason to fear the menacing-looking male of this species.

The mandibles are used to fight other dobsonflies and they make it impossible for the male to bite. Females have much smaller mandibles and they can bite and break skin if handled, but they have no venom and aren't known to carry diseases.

Living primarily near large bodies of water, dobsonflies larvae are sometimes used by fishermen as fish bait.

Females lay eggs in streams and rivers. Larvae hide under rocks and go through multiple molts until they pupate into adults.

CENTIPEDE

Centipedes are easy to spot just because they have so many legs — 15 to 177 pairs depending on the species. And the leg pairs on centipedes are not symmetrical, so they appear to always have an odd number of leg pairs.  

Centipedes thrive in high moisture areas like crawlspaces, bathrooms and potted plants. Outdoors you'll find them in rotting logs and in piles of grass and leaves.

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While centipedes are a nuisance, they are beneficial because they prey on flies and spiders. They also eat plant material. 

If you have an infestation, be careful when handling centipedes. While they don't pose a health risk, they have poisonous jaws. Larger species can break human skin, causing pain and swelling similar to a bee sting.

DRAGONFLY

Dragonflies are amazing insects that you actually want at your property. You see, the eat hundreds of insects per day — mostly mosquitoes.

 

You need only a little sun-drenched fountain or tiny water feature filled with water plants to attract these ancient, flying, beneficial insects. Make certain your water feature does not have fish in it, however, as dragonflies will feed on fish.

Dragonflies were among the first winged insects to evolve over 300 million years ago. These dual-winged creates can work their sets of wings independently, allowing them to move effortlessly through the air. Their huge eyes give them exceptional vision in all directions except behind them.

EUROPEAN HONEY BEE

European honey bees are one of the most widely domesticated honey bee species in the world, thanks to their efficient honey producing capabilities and their role in pollinating crops, plants and trees.

European honey bees are impostors -- they're not from Europe at all. They're really native to the Middle East and Asia. But it was European colonists who introduced them to North America.

Highly socialized, these bees live in structured colonies ruled by a single queen, who lays all the eggs. Male drones fertilize the queen and then die. The worker bees consist entirely of sterile females.

Axiom generally does not treat for European Honey Bees. Find out why we don't.

GREAT BLACK WASP

The great black wasp looks ferocious because of its large size and dark coloring, but this is actually the least aggressive of the wasps living across North America.

This is a species of digger wasp whose females build nests underground. It preys on grasshoppers, katydids and locusts, paralyzing them by stinging them 3 times before carrying them off to be stuffed into their underground nests and having wasp eggs glued to them.

They prefer meadows, pastures and urban gardens, where flowers are in abundance.

Great black wasps are considered beneficial insects because they devour plant-eating insects and aid in pollination. You might want to think twice before attempting to rid them from your environment.

GROUND WASP

These wasps go by a variety of names, often called ground wasps, solitary wasps or digger wasps. They are characterized by bright colors on their legs and abdomen, with a signature, thin, wasp waist. They are not aggressive and stings are rare.

Ground wasps build subterranean nests — that is they burrow underground. As solitary wasps, they do not colonize but they build multiple nests — so you'll see multiple burrow holes in a given area.

Females are the hunters of this species. They will paralyze grasshoppers or crickets and carry them back to their nest. There they will lay eggs on the prey and as the eggs morph into larvae, the prey will be consumed.

These wasps are considered beneficial insects because they devour plant-eating insects and aid in pollination. You might want to think twice before attempting to rid them from your environment.

Looking at the horntail, you'd think it has a massive stinger and it knows how to use it. Nothing could be further from the truth. The horntail doesn't sting or bite and its long syringe is actually used for laying eggs.

Horntails range in size from 1.6 inches to 2 inches in length. They share the yellow and brown/black striping with other wasps, but that's where the similarities end.

Females horntails lay their eggs in trees where the larvae bore into the wood and live for up to two years. They normally migrate to just below the bark prior to pupation.

Horntails may make their way into homes during initial construction by being part of already infested lumber. However, that risk is only within the first year. Once a horntail has emerged, they will not lay eggs in wood inside the home.

HORNTAIL

JAPANESE HONEY BEE

It's difficult for the untrained eye to tell the difference between Japanese honey bees and European honey bees -- the Japanese species is slightly smaller and has a different veining pattern on its wings.

Japanese honey bees construct a honeycomb and make honey, but their colonies are smaller in size than those of the European honey bees. Hollow trees are a favorite nesting spot.

One of the greatest innovations of this bee species is that it can control the temperature of its nest, circulating outside air if the nest gets too warm, or using their muscles in colder temperatures to generate heat to keep eggs and larvae warm.

These bees are important to our ecosystem, but if yours are becoming more of a pest, call Axiom and we'll work with you to get them under control.

Axiom does not generally treat for Japanese Honey Bees. Find out why we don't.

MAYFLY

Wide flowing wings and an elongated body make mayflies easy to spot. In fact, if you've ever seen artificial flies tied for fly fishermen, they always are attempting to recreate the various life stages of the mayfly. 

Immature mayflies are aquatic and referred to as nymphs or naiads. They may live for several years underwater. Their presence indicates a non-polluted water source.

All mayflies in a population mature at once, lasting for a few days in spring or autumn — although their name implies it, they don't just hatch in May. But their hatching is a spectacle, known to turn the sky dark with literally millions of insects taking flight at once.

Their emergence at the same time has the purpose of finding a mate and laying eggs before they die within days.​

MILLIPEDE

Although their name is Latin for "thousand feet" no millipede actually has even shown to have more than 750 legs, but most have far fewer legs. Millipedes have two sets of legs on either side of their body segments, distinguishing them centipedes, which have only one leg per body segment.

Most millipedes are slow moving detritivores that eat decaying leaves and other dead plant matter, compared to centipedes, which move quickly and are carnivores.  

Most prefer outdoor, damp environments by they can migrate inside if it becomes too hot or dry. Inside, they'll hide under furniture or boxes. You might find them lined up on patios and porches, or once they've climbed your foundation, along basement doors and windows, crawlspace vents and garage doors.

Most active at night, millipedes move in large numbers, so it might be surprising to see them. They are beneficial, however, because they eat decaying organic matter.

SCORPION FLY

Yep, you probably saw what you thought you saw as you strolled through the woods. The scorpion fly is exactly what its name implies; an insect that is a cross between a fly and a scorpion. 

Although they look menacing, you need not fear this fly. After all, they cannot sting or bite and they generally stay only in dense wooded areas, so you won't find one of these in your home.

Adults feed mainly on dead insects, pollen and nectar. Their larvae also eat dead insects.

The scorpion fly male has a unique mating ritual. The male emits a pheromone from its abdomen to attract females. He then offers the attracted female a gift of a dead insect or pellet of his saliva. Females often select their mating partners based on this gift offering. 

SPIDER WASP

Spider wasps are so named because they are effective hunters and killers of spiders, which they use to feed their offspring. Spider wasps can often be seen running on the ground flitting their wings with a spider in their grasp.

The adult spider wasp does not eat spiders — it survives on plant nectar. But its young larvae need the meat of spiders to survive. Therefore, a female will find a spider, attack and sting it until it is paralyzed, then drag the spider back to her nest, lay on egg on it and then close the nest back up, allowing the larvae to feed on the spider as they age. 

Spider wasps are burrowing wasps who live in the ground. They are solitary in that they do not build colonies. They are considered beneficial insects because of they hunt spiders and pollinator flowers through their nectar collection. They do sting, however, so call a pro to control them in your yard.

WESTERN HONEY BEE

The western honey bee was introduced to North America in the 1600s, but it has been in human cultivation for over 3500 years for its efficient pollination, as well as for its wax and honey.

The buzzing you hear from honey bees is due to their wing flapping, which occurs at 235 beats per second. 

 

Worker bees spend the first 10 days of their lives cleaning the hive and feeding larvae. For 5 more days, they build comb cells in the hive. On days 16-20, they work in the logistics department receiving and storing nectar and pollen from older workers. After day 20, workers leave the hive and spend the rest of their lives foraging for nectar and pollen.

 

Axiom generally does not treat for Western Honey Bees, and here's why.

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