Nature’s pest control: how to help the beneficial bugs in your life

There are plenty of bad bugs out there, and plenty of other bugs that can keep them under control.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Insecticides aren’t necessarily the wide-sweeping broom that they once were. Rather than ending all insect life, many of them are targeted for use with specific pests. If, however, you want something more natural, there’s a wide world of bugs that can help.

“We tend to underestimate what’s out there”, says University of Nebraska-Lincoln entomology department head John Ruberson. “If I were to walk into a Nebraska cornfield in the middle of July, I could probably find at least 50 different species of predators and parasites out there.”

While those two words, “predators” and “parasites” may sound negative, they refer here to the critters that take care of less-desirable critters. Lady beetles, spiders, and wasps so small they can barely be seen, among others, are very good at what they do.

“Sometimes we forget that the pest problems that we have in our fields, and in our home gardens, and in our pastures really are the leftovers”, Ruberson explains. “Those populations, if not for those natural enemies that are out there, would be much, much, much larger, and virtually impossible for us to control.”

That’s why the University of Nebraska is involved in some field management research in North Platte, to help nature’s pest control service to thrive.

“If we can find ways to manage what’s already out there in the field and conserve those populations and enhance them, we get that much more benefit from what’s out there, so there’s a lot of potential and possibility”, Ruberson says.

You can help, too, by taking a few simple steps at home. In fact, you may already be doing some of these things. Many people have been creating environments that are specifically designed for pollinators like butterflies and bees. The natural predators we’ve been talking about like those environments as well. Creating diverse habitats can give these bugs a home where they can really thrive.

Categories: Nebraska News, News