They’re creepy, crawly little critters and most people would agree they’re not very pleasant in appearance. They can even be real pests in some instances, such as when they find their way into your home during the warm summer months. But did you know that beetles also have some great benefits?
You may have heard of beneficial insects. Many beetles fall into this category of good garden bugs that promote growth and health among your plants. So, how do they do that exactly? Leave it to our Mr. Tree expert Oregon arborists to explain it all.
The first thing to note is that there are many types of beetles. Perhaps most pleasing to the eye is the lady beetle, also known as the ladybug. These brightly colored insects are known for their polka-dotted pattern, but ladybugs are noteworthy for another reason. They typically lay their eggs in the vicinity of aphid colonies. Once hatched, the larvae have a voracious appetite for aphids, which are otherwise known as plant-eating insects. Over the course of its lifetime, a ladybug can devour as many as 5,000 aphids.
There are thousands of species of ladybugs, however, and not all of them consume aphids. Some of them have an appetite for plants instead. These are the types of ladybugs that you want to be wary of. The Mexican bean beetle and squash beetle are a couple examples. The former is orange with eight black spots on each side, whereas the latter has seven spots per side. If you want to err on the side of caution and be sure that you’re introducing the right species into your garden, contact your local Oregon arborists at Mr. Tree for help.
Ladybugs can be a great addition to your garden, but there are other beneficial beetles as well. Just as the name indicates, the soldier beetle is a great weapon to have in your garden. This soft-bodied beetle will guard against plant-preying insects, protecting your garden from potential harm.
Much like ladybugs, the larvae of soldier beetles will consume other predacious larvae. Likewise, adult soldier beetles will feed on insects like aphids and caterpillars. In the absence of such insects, soldier beetles still make good use of themselves. When no predators are present, these beneficial beetles will pollinate certain flowers, such as the goldenrod, so you would do well to arm yourself and your garden with them.
We’re off to a good start, but we’re really just scratching the surface when it comes to these bustling, beneficial beetles.
The rove beetle is another example of one of these good guys. Both the larvae and adults are predaceous, feeding on insects and mites that threaten your garden plants. One thing to note about rove beetles, though, is that they are initially slow to act. Therefore, if you are looking to remedy an immediate problem, the rove beetle is not going to be a quick fix.
While there are many beneficial beetles, you may come across some that are harmful. Luckily, there’s a beneficial beetle to attack the non-beneficial beetles in your yard.
The Cleridae, also known as checkered beetles, will rid you of bark beetles, which feed on the bark and inhabit the wood of many tree species. While some bark beetles hasten the decomposition of decaying wood, others invade and harm the bark of perfectly healthy trees. In order to protect your home’s landscaping from these pests, you may need to introduce checkered beetles to your garden. In addition to controlling bark beetle populations, some species attack larval bees, wasps, and termites as well.
The soft-winged flower beetle, as the name suggests, can often be found on garden flowers. This beetle is a beneficial insect because it acts as both a predator and pollinator. Most soft-winged flower beetles are less than a quarter-inch in size, but they still manage to pack a lot of power in their punch. These predators find and feed on almost all insects smaller than themselves. They are also able to move quickly and cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, making them efficient pollinators.
Speaking of covering a lot of ground, have we mentioned how helpful ground beetles are? These nocturnal beetles, which hail from the Carabidae family, feed on a variety of insects, including caterpillars, beetle grubs, grasshoppers, snails, and slugs. They have such voracious appetites that they are often able to eat their weight in pests in a single day. While most ground beetles are carnivorous, they do have some seed-eating counterparts as well. Seed-eating carabids may be useful in taming weed species.
Remember the old adage ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover?’ Well, that saying certainly applies here. You can’t judge a creepy crawler by its appearance. Most beetles aren’t necessarily pretty to look at, but they will beautify your garden by keeping it thriving and lovely looking. And there are many beneficial beetles beyond the handful that we’ve mentioned here.
So, how should you go about attracting these beneficial beetles to your yard? Should you introduce them naturally by growing plants and flowers that will likely attract them? Or should you purchase and intentionally release them into your garden? The right answer may depend on the type of insect you’re looking to attract and your specific situation. For instance, are you using beneficial beetles as a preventative measure or as a defensive measure?
Discussing the particulars of your situation with your local Oregon arborist may be the best thing to do. At Mr. Tree, our expert arborists have years of experience in the Oregon area. We’re ready to chat with you about your garden needs and help you reap the benefits of these beneficial beetles for years to come.