Beneficial insects for indoor plants: biological pest control

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Pests are little animals that harm us humans, mostly by damaging cultivated plants. Beneficial insects are small animals, mostly insects, spiders or nematodes, which provide us humans with a benefit by eating pests or otherwise eliminating them. Beneficial insects can be used to combat pests not only in the garden, they also help to regulate infestations in our houseplants in a sustainable and natural way.

How do beneficial pest control insects work?

It is important to identify the type of pest exactly in order to get the right beneficial insect. These can easily be bought online or in specialty stores. The use of beneficial insects is only necessary in the event of a severe infestation. Plants should be placed close together so that all pests and their larvae can be killed. The beneficial insects slowly die out when no pests are left as food or host.  

Fight aphids, thrips and co. biologically - settle beneficial insects in the garden or treat house plants

Against most of the worst pests of plants, there is a suitable beneficial enemy. Here we present the most helpful beneficial insects against aphids, mealybugs and mealybugs, fungus gnats, thrips, spider mites, leaf miners, whiteflies and even powdery mildew.  

Lacewings / lacewing larvae

Lacewing larvae (Chrysopidae) are particularly useful when infested with aphids, thrips, mealybugs and spider mite larvae. Lacewing larvae suckle off hundreds of pests for about two weeks before pupating. The empty shells of the pests are left behind. Adult lacewings feed mainly on pollen and nectar, so they help pollinate the plants and no longer fight pests. The larvae need temperatures above 12 degrees Celsius and only a few animals, around 10-20 per plant, should be released. If the infestation is severe, the application should be repeated after a few weeks.

Use ladybugs against pests

Many ladybird species (Coccinellidae) can already help in the larval stage as beneficial insects in pest infestations and then be released outside. It only needs 5 to 10 beneficial insects per plant and regular spraying of the plant to control it, since the ladybugs need drinking water. Temperatures should be above 20 degrees Celsius. The seven-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata), the best-known species, feeds on aphids. The Australian ladybird (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) feeds on mealybugs and mealybugs. The black globe ladybird (Stethorus punctillum) feeds mainly on spider mites, but it can also be used against aphids. The sixteen-spotted ladybird (Halyzia sedecimguttata) can help with powdery mildew because it eats it.

Little helpers - parasitic wasps

Ichneumon wasps (Ichneumonidae) are very small animals that paralyze the larvae of pests. They are harmless to humans and die off as soon as there are no longer any pests as hosts. They don't really fly, they move by crawling. They do not sting humans, but instead bury their stingers in the larvae of whiteflies, leaf miners, and aphids to lay their eggs. About 5 to 10 beneficial insects per plant are sufficient to combat the pests.

predatory mites

Predatory mites (Gamasina) are very small beneficial insects that can hardly be seen with the naked eye. Various species are used as beneficial insects on the above-ground parts of plants, as they suck out the larvae of some known pests and thus kill them. So-called Phytoseiulus predatory mites help indoor plants with an infestation of spider mites. Hypaospis predatory mites help regulate fungus gnat infestations. Various species of Amblyseius predatory mites can be used against thrips.

fungus gnats

With beneficial insects against fungus gnats: nematodes

SF nematodes (Steinernema feltiae) are roundworms that are placed in the soil to combat the larvae of pests. They are so small that they can hardly be seen with the naked eye. In addition to this useful species, there are also nematodes that attack plants and are therefore considered pests themselves. The SF nematodes can enter the larvae of fungus gnats through body openings, release a bacterium there that decomposes the larvae and thus help to contain the pest.

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