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Garden Allies: Predaceous Ground Beetles

Articles: Garden Allies: Predaceous Ground Beetles

Ground beetle (Pterostichus) Illus: Craig Latker
Gardeners who want to reduce pesticide use (all of us, right?) would do well to learn the science and art of conservation biological control. Enhancing habitat while simultaneously eliminating or reducing pesticide use encourages natural enemies of pests to take up residence in the garden, settle in, and reproduce. As populations of predatory and parasitic insects and other garden allies grow, pest species are less of a problem, further reducing the temptation to reach for pesticides. This positive feedback loop is integral to the success of this pest management strategy.
Many gardeners are becoming accustomed to growing flowers to attract pollinators and beneficial insects such as lady beetles and lacewings; however, many natural enemies are not drawn to blossoms and require a different habitat strategy. Most common predaceous ground beetles (family Carabidae) are true carnivores, hunting caterpillars, beetle grubs, grasshoppers, and other small animals such as snails and slugs. Ground beetles, while common in most gardens, are rarely noticed because of their m...

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