Even if you are not a horticulturalist, you can imagine how insect pests must make cultivating and maintaining decorative landscapes and gardens a major challenge. Many homeowners who wish to keep their garden and/or landscape plants in pristine condition find the task impossible due to the abundance of insect pests that feed upon, and eventually kill, landscape and garden plants. Massachusetts is home to several insect pest species that inflict fatal damage to ornamental plants, flowers, agricultural gardens, trees and even grass. Some of the most common landscape pests in the state include aphids, earwigs, weevils, certain caterpillar species and Japanese beetles. In order to keep destructive landscape pests at bay, many residents hire the services of a pest control professional, as store-bought insecticides are not formulated to target specific insect pests while leaving beneficial garden insects, like bees and wasps, unharmed. In order to minimize damage to landscape and garden plants, homeowners should learn to discern beneficial insects from harmful landscape pests. For example, it is always good to find ladybugs within a cultivated landscape, as ladybugs kill off numerous landscape pests that are common in Massachusetts lawns. However, many residents are taking this advice to the extreme by releasing store-bought ladybugs into their landscape as a natural form of pest control. Unfortunately, this biological control method can cause many new problems for landscape and garden enthusiasts.

Introducing store-bought ladybug specimens into a landscape as a pest control method often sees the foreign ladybugs spreading disease-causing pathogens to the wild ladybugs that are already present on a landscape. These store-bought ladybugs also tend to stray away from the landscape and garden plants that they are meant to protect, as these insects naturally wander into new areas in order to lay their eggs. Some residents purchase praying mantids rather than ladybugs, but mantids can cause more harm than good as they consume any insect in sight, even the beneficial ones, such as butterflies and bees. In order to protect landscape and garden plants from insect pests, it is best to tend to cultivated plants daily in order to pinpoint and remove destructive pests while allowing beneficial insects to proliferate.

Have you ever considered using store-bought predatory insects to kill off landscape pests that have caused damage to your plants?