Baby, you’re bugging me

Photo by ohadweb via flickr

Coccinella septempunctata sounds more like a bad case of food poisoning than an insect.  More commonly known a ladybug, this insect has long been the home gardener’s friend because it dines on insects that dine on plants in our gardens.

While plant-eating insects are a minor annoyance to the average person, they are a significantly greater source of concern for the farmers who grow the crops that feed us.  These insects can literally eat up a grower’s chance for profits.

The ladybug is known as a beneficial insect, and it has friends — beneficial mites and beneficial snails.  Together, they work as a team and to borrow a term from the agricultural industry, they are part of an “integrated pest management program” that helps reduce the amount of pesticides used on crops.

Associates Insectary, a grower-owned cooperative in Ventura County, says reducing the amount of pesticide applied to crops also helps preserve the environment.

According to the Web site, the coop produces up to 10 million insects and mites every day.  The fabulous four — Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, Rumina decollata, Neoseiulus californicus, and Aphytis melinus — are released regularly on 10 million acres of orchards.

Before you squash another bug, you might take a moment to reconsider,  and then commute its death sentence.

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