September 13, 2010

Beneficial Bugs

If you look closely around your backyard, you can catch a glimpse of the tiny household helpers that often go unnoticed—bugs. Many insects in Washington State pollinate our gardens, eat pests in our homes and reduce the need for pesticides we use in our yards.

One insect found throughout Western Washington that’s good for our homes is the ground beetle. There are numerous different species that reside in damp areas. As larvae and as adults, ground beetles eat slugs and snails that invade our backyards. Large mandibles (pinchers) help them eat a variety of large and small prey. They also eat what many consider to be garden and house pests, such as house fly maggots and cutworms.

An adult Common Black Ground Beetle, photo courtesy of Washington State University

Want these predacious ground beetles to live in your backyard? These nocturnal animals like to hide during the day, so providing logs, rocks and soil areas for ground beetles can result in them staying in your yard. Also, only use pesticides when necessary, and spray directly on the plants in jeopardy. Reducing pesticide use saves ground beetles, which reduces the need to use pesticides!

To learn more about the bugs in your backyard, come to the Burke Museum’s Bug Blast on Sunday, Sept. 19 from 10 am – 4 pm. You can see bugs, touch bugs, and even eat some chef-prepared bug dishes!

Posted by: Andrea Barber, Communications