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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Insects that are 'beneficial'

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

(Photo)
As the temperatures continue to climb, we will continue to see more insects appearing out in the open.

These bugs are generally considered unsightly.

However, some of them are actually beneficial insects.

There are many different beneficial insects we see at various times of the year, including assassin bugs, damsel bugs and syrphid flies.

Each of these feed on various insects, including beetle larvae, aphids, thrips, leafhoppers and caterpillars.

The name assassin bug is used to refer to a group of insects, which hunt and feed on other insects.

The general characteristics of these insects include being long-legged, fairly large (up to one-and-a-half inches in length) and having folded wings that overlap on their back.

They utilize their front legs to capture prey and then stab them with their mouth.

When they stab their prey, then inject a small amount of toxin and eventually suck the body fluid out of their victim.

The wheel bug is one of the most easily recognized assassin bug.

It is named for the "crest" on its upper back that closely resembles a cog-wheel.

It is one of the largest assassin bugs known.

It can inflict a painful bite if handled inappropriately.

If it does bite you, it can cause inflammation and pain, which may last for several days.

Damsel bugs are fast-moving insects that chase down and feed on other insects.

They are about a half-inch long, tan or gray in color and often hold their front legs up, as if they were lifting a skirt up to spin around a dance floor.

They have a similar body shape to a stink bug.

They use their strong, spiny front legs to hold their prey and their long piercing mouthpart to suck their prey's body fluid out.

Syrphid flies are often seen hovering around flower blossoms feeding on nectar and pollen.

They are sometimes confused with bees as they have black and yellow banding,.

However, they only have one pair of wings.

Adult syrphid flies will lay hundreds of eggs near colonies of aphids, thrips and other small soft-bodied insects.

Once the eggs hatch, the larvae will pierce the soft-bodied insects with its piercing mouthpart and suck the body fluid out.

The larvae are legless and usually brownish or greenish.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* April 26 -- Youth Earth Day Program, Owen County Extension Office, 6:30-7:30 p.m.,

* May 3 -- Owen County Share-The-Fun Contest,

* May 5 -- Area Share-The-Fun Contest,

* May 10 -- Beekeeping Workshop, Owen County Extension Office, 6:30-8 p.m. RSVP by May 8 by calling 812-829-5020, and

* May 12 -- Help for Caregivers Workshop, Bloomington, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Register by calling 812-876-3383 Ext. 505.