Category Archives: Beneficial insects

Quick fix for mosquitoes






This year my wife and I worked all spring to turn our backyard into a flowery paradise.  We installed drip irrigation, planted new plants (including a bunch of perennials for attracting bees and butterflies) and mulched everything against the coming drought of summer. Now that summer’s here, however, the mosquitoes have decided that since everything’s so nice, they want to be in charge.  In fact I believe every mosquito on the block knows about our backyard, making it difficult to go outside for even a few minutes without repellent. You… Read More →




Turning the tide against ash borer?






On one hand, we’ve learned a lot about how to fight emerald ash borer with pesticides in the past 14 years since it was first discovered devouring ash forests in Michigan.  But we’re still learning how nature keeps EAB in its place in its native Asian home.  Insect parasites and predators are almost certainly the reason EAB is not a major pest on the other side of the globe. If only we could put some of those same beneficial insects to work for us!  Then maybe we could… Read More →




New books on bees






If bookstores are any indication, it seems bees are getting lots of love these days.  Lots of new resources and references are available on bees.  So I thought I would share a few of the resources that I know of that might be of interest to any of you looking to expand your knowledge of these important  insects. The Bees in Your Backyard, A Guide to North America’s Bees by Joseph S. Wilson & Olivia J. Messinger Carril. Princeton Univ. Press.  I just ordered my copy, it looks… Read More →




Sharing the Million Pollinator Challenge






This week I had the opportunity to attend the First National Conference on Protecting Pollinators in Ornamental Landscapes.  The meeting took place outside of scenic Asheville, NC and drew entomologists, industry personnel and extension educators from all over the country.  I thought I would use this post to help me digest some of the things I learned, and pose my readers a challenge. First of all, it was nice to get the chance to interact with folks on both sides of the bee wars–that culture/science clash between the green community… Read More →




New-bee volunteers






A new resource was birthed this spring with the first graduating class of apprentice Master Beekeepers.  In March the Texas Master Beekeeper program graduated its first class of 68 volunteers specializing in bee culture and protection. Like its cousins, the Master Gardener and Master Naturalist programs, the Master Beekeeper program is intended to nurture trained volunteers to assist with public service and educational programs.  But the Master Beekeepers will work on projects primarily related to honey bees. With this first class Texas joins Florida, Georgia, Oregon and other Master Beekeeping… Read More →




Spiders Gone Wild in Rowlett






Rowlett, Texas is a relatively quiet suburb of big neighbor, Dallas.  Driving along the city’s CA Roan Drive, a quiet stretch of road running through Lakeside Park South, you can feel a long way from the big city.  But cyclists and drivers along that route this week may have noticed the trees looking a little shiny, and maybe just a little creepy. Along a football field length stretch of the drive, the spiders are taking over.  Glistening webs are draping the trees like shrouds at Lakeside Park, a stone’s throw away from the… Read More →




Flag waving for Americans






The ensign wasp is one of the odder insects found occasionally in homes.  A small insect, only 5-7 mm long, it does not sting or bite.  In fact, it does no harm; but it is a beneficial parasite of at least three household cockroaches, the American cockroach being the most common. Ensign wasps are experts at locating not the cockroaches themselves, but the egg cases (oothecae) that cockroaches deposit.  According to one account, when the female ensign wasp encounters a cockroach egg case, she first taps it with her antennae, presumably… Read More →




What’s all the buzz about insect hotels?






Insect pollinators seem to be receiving some overdue attention these days.  Pollinator insects provide incalculable services to humans via increased fruit production and crop pollination. According to the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, 3/4 of the world’s flowering plants and about 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce. This new interest in bees is resulting in a renaissance of a sorts in creative ideas for attracting and sheltering pollinator insects in backyards and parks and even hotels.  In European hotels and hostels I’m told… Read More →




New study on bees and neonics






Are insecticides to blame for killing off the honey bee?  That question has stimulated lively debate in both scientific and policy circles the past two years.  At the heart of the controversy is a group of insecticides known as neonicotinoids.  Neonics, as they’re sometimes called, have risen over the past 20 years to become the number one class of insecticides sold worldwide, and are being used increasingly by nurseries and home gardeners to control a variety of landscape and garden pest problems. Environmental groups contend that the case is… Read More →




Plan Bee: Insecticide tags on nursery plants






Lobbying efforts by “defenders of the bees” have been rewarded by one of the largest retailers of nursery plants requiring new tags on plants.  As reported today by Nursery Management magazine, all Home Depot plants treated by greenhouse or nursery producers with one of the neonicotinoid insecticides will have to carry a special tag informing customers of the treatment and potential residues. What’s this about?  It’s all part of a political and scientific brouhaha over a group of insecticides that were recently discovered to have some subtle, and possibly deadly,… Read More →