California Heartland
California HeartlandHomeThis SeasonTV ScheduleHostsShopFeedbackArchiveCalifornia Heartland

California Heartland

Episode 907 - Homegrown: Backyard Pest Control  

Homegrown: Backyard Pest Control
ckyard Pest Control
ckyard Pest Control

Master Gardener Fred Hoffman shows how you can keep annoying pests out of your garden, while keeping pets and children safe.

Information About Beneficial Insects and Pests
by Fred Hoffman.   

Plants That Attract Beneficial Insects
Nature is filled with "good bugs", crawling and flying creatures whose diet consists mainly of the pests that ravage garden plants. Here is a list of those good bugs and the plants that they like to visit for food and shelter. Intersperse these plants among the "problem pest areas" in your yard. Remember, though: Many chemical sprays work on both bad and good bugs. To keep the good bugs in your yard, eliminate insecticide use in the areas where they live and work. Our thanks to Steve Zien of Living Resources Company for helping to match up the good bugs with good homes. For more information about beneficial insects, there are two wonderful books (which include the pictures below) from the University of California Press, both written by UC Davis Entomologist Mary Louise Flint: "Pests of the Garden and Small Farm" and "The Natural Enemies Handbook".

ckyard Pest Control LACEWINGS (Chrysopa spp.)
Beautiful little green or brown insects with large lacy wings. Individual white eggs are found laid on the ends of inch-long stiff threads. It is the larvae (which look like little alligators) that destroy most of the pests. They are sometimes called aphid lions for their habit of dining on aphids. They also feed on mites, other small insects and insect eggs. The lacewing, which is also attracted to well-lit windows and screens on spring and summer evenings. 
Plants that attract lacewings
ckyard Pest Control LADYBUGS
Recognized when they are adults by most gardeners. However, the young larvae, black with orange markings, eat more pests than the adults, and they can't fly. Yellowish eggs are laid in clusters usually on the undersides of leaves.
Plants that attract ladybugs
ckyard Pest Control HOVERFLIES
Also known as syrphid fly, hover fly or flower fly. Adults look like little bees that hover over and dart quickly away. They don't sting! They lay eggs (white, oval, laid singly or in groups on leaves) which hatch into green, yellow, brown, orange, or white half-inch maggots that look like caterpillars. They raise up on their hind legs to catch and feed on aphids, mealybugs and others.
Plants that attract hoverflies
ckyard Pest Control PARASITIC MINI-WASPS
Parasites of a variety of insects. They do not sting! The stingers have been adapted to allow the females to lay their eggs in the bodies of insect pests. The eggs then hatch, and the young feed on the pests from the inside, killing them. After they have killed the pests, they leave hollow "mummies." Braconid wasps feed on moth, beetle and fly larvae, moth eggs, various insect pupae and adults. If you see lots of white capsules on the backs of a caterpillar, these are the braconid cocoons—leave the dying caterpillar alone! Ichneumonid wasps control moth, butterfly, beetle and fly larvae and pupae. Trichogramma wasps lay their eggs in the eggs of moths (hungry caterpillars-to-be), killing them and turning them black. The black dot in the middle of the picture is an emerging encarsia wasp, which is hatching out of an immature stage of a (now dead) whitefly. The wasp lays its eggs onto young whiteflies.
Plants that attract mini-wasps
ckyard Pest Control TACHINID FLIES
Parasites of caterpillars (corn earworm, imported cabbage worm, cabbage looper, cutworms, armyworms), stink bug, squash bug nymphs, beetle and fly larvae, some true bugs, and beetles. Adults are 1/3 to 1/2 inch long. White eggs are deposited on foliage or on the body of the host (in the picture below, the tachinid fly is approaching the larvae of an elm leaf beetle). Larvae are internal parasites, feeding within the body of the host, sucking its body fluids to the point the pest dies.
Plants that attract Tachinid Flies
ckyard Pest Control MINUTE PIRATE BUGS (Orius spp.)
Tiny (1/20 inch long) bugs that feed on almost any small insect or mite, including thrips, aphids, mites, scales, whiteflies and soft-bodied arthropods, but are particularly attracted to thrips in spring.
ckyard Pest Control DAMSEL BUGS (Nabis spp.)
Feed on aphids, leafhoppers, plant bugs, and even small caterpillars as adults and nymphs (teenagers). They are usually dull brown and resemble other plant bugs that are pests. Their heads are usually longer and narrower then most plant feeding species (the better to eat with).
ckyard Pest Control BIG EYED BUGS (Geocoris spp.)
Small (1/4 inch long), grayish-beige, oval shaped) bugs with large eyes that feed on many small insects (e.g., leaf hoppers, spider mites), insect eggs, and mites, as both nymphs and adults. Eggs are football shaped, whitish-gray with red spots.
Plants that attract Minute Pirate Bugs, Damsel Bugs and Big Eyed Bugs


Additional Info:

Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table by Mai PhamPests of the Garden and Small Farm
by Mary Louise Flint



The Best of Vietnamese & Thai Cooking by Mai PhamThe Natural Enemies Handbook
by Mary Louise Flint




Explore the rest of Episode 907



California Heartland® is made possible by:
The James G. Boswell Foundation      Bank of America     California Farm Bureau Federation       California Almond Board      CA Milk Advisory Board

A production of KVIE Public Television, Sacramento, CA. ©2008 KVIE, Inc. All rights reserved.