Books by A.O. Kime
"Metaphysical realities in America's politically-challenged democracy"
"A sagacious accounting of the Stone Age and the beginnings of civilization"
see more books
U.S. colleges and trade schools
A.O. Kime Articles:
Shoofly Village ruins
Stone Age history
Stone Age timelines
Stone Age tools
Dynamics of now
Evil (nature of)
Gift of life
Light (nature of)
Time (nature of)
Curse of science
Int'l Criminal Court
Rule of law
Controlling insects biologically is challenging because it requires certain detailed knowledge of the target pest, frequent monitoring of the pest populations (every 2-3 days), and anticipatory strategies. In other words, with agricultural chemicals, it is often an instant cure whereas to rely on biological controls alone one must think ahead. One must recognize and/or anticipate a threatening pest population buildup... although that requires recognizing what a threatening situation IS (or could be). Plants can tolerate some pests and the economic threshold should be a consideration. In other words, the dollar gain should exceed the dollar cost (for controls).
However it is important not to let the population of injurious pests get out of hand. First, once it does, irreversible damage has probably already occurred for which not even pesticides can rectify and, secondly, beneficial insects cannot control a huge population of injurious pests... they would be overwhelmed. The safe bet is to assume certain pests will be there (you must determine which) and have their natural enemies already at work keeping the pests at bay. Yet, timing the release of predators is extremely important and utilizing methods to keep them from straying off... a common problem (especially with ladybugs). Learning how to effectively control insects biologically takes time however, several seasons for sure... and experience is the key to success. While a challenging affair, it is more-so a noble battle, and for the determined (those who persevere)... victory is sweet.
A.O. Kime - former Arizona and California agricultural Pest Control Advisor (1970-1992) and family farmer (1973-1998)
While there are dozens of beneficial insect predators, most have limited applications, but four predators stand out as having a multitude of applications. So for the time being, we are providing information only on those four. Click any of the links below for information on the other three.
Seven-spotted adult Lady beetle (coccinella septempunctata)
There are numerous species of Lady beetles (also called ladybugs) in the United States, just in Idaho alone there are some 80 species. However the most commonly known are the Two spotted, Seven spotted (as pictured on the left) and Convergent ladybeetles. Most are typically beetle-shaped, brightly colored and usually spotted. For the most part, except for the yellow Mexican bean beetle, a plant pest, all are considered beneficial. In fact, of all the insect predators (beneficial insects), the Lady beetle is considered one of the most beneficial. As is the case with most predators, they are particularly effective during warm weather.
Both the adults and larvae feed on a variety of soft-bodied insects such as mites, aphids and insect eggs but prefer aphids. Not counting their voracious appetite during their larva stage (3-4 weeks), one adult Lady beetle may eat a thousand-plus aphids in its lifetime. It is believed they can live for up to 11 months in warm climates but it is considerably less in colder country. One small species, the black lady beetles, are effective in controlling spider mites and others are used to control scale insects (in orchards). In that the adults are capable of flight, they can actively seek out food in a wide area whereas the flightless larvae are more-or-less confined to a single plant.
< lady beetle larva
The larvae of lady beetles usually have an 'alligator' shape (or 'spindle' shape) and are dark colored (or black) with orange (or yellow) spots. Like the adults, they prefer aphids as their food source but will consume other insects... even their own if food is scarce. During this stage, lasting 3-4 weeks, it is believed they can eat several hundred aphids. They have chewing mouthparts.
Lifecycle: The adult females can lay up to a hundred eggs daily in clusters generally on the underside of a leaf. The eggs are orange (or yellowish orange) and since they are elongated and laid upright, they have the appearance of miniature footballs. As is the common lifecycle of beetles, once the larvae has reached the end of that stage, they will pupate into adults. From egg to adult takes about 20-35 days so there will be several generations per year... more in warmer climates than in cold. They over-winter (hibernate) as adults often under debris such as leaves or other places of shelter.
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Don’t fly away ladybugs, please linger awhile,
'cause eyeing my broccoli are bugs for a mile.
Just stay in my garden both daytime and night,
I’ll pay you a nickel for each aphid and mite.
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Last modified: 09/19/12