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The Beneficial Challenge

Karl Foord, UMN Extension Educator

Do you actually see things that you do not recognize? I was hunting for agates near Custer, South Dakota and went through a great agate field and picked a number of nice specimens. I then visited a rock shop and was introduced to the prairie agate which I had not seen in any of the rock books. I went back to the agate field and found quite a few prairie agates. I had been in that field earnestly searching for agates before and did not even see these types until pointed out at the rock shop. This begs the question, can you be looking right at something and not see it or rather not recognize it for what it is? It is not that your eyes did not see it but rather your brain was not ready to discern.

This brings me to the subject of beneficial insects in the garden. Have I not seen them because I did not know what I was looking for? As I look forward to next year's gardening, I want to put the idea of discovering more beneficials at the forefront of my mind. To aid the process I would like to be able to see what it is that I am looking for. As advanced responsible gardeners I think we have an obligation to recognize the dynamics at work in our gardens. To this end I offer the following challenge: how many beneficials will you be able to see and identify from your garden in 2012?

What follows is a gallery of 8 beneficial insects with pictures of their mature and immature stages. Also included is a table showing the types of insects on which they prey.

Please click here for the pdf of the gallery: Beneficials.pdf
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