Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Quick Tips

Beneficial Predators

Published   1/24

PDFSpanish version of this Pest Alert

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Protect beneficial predators or “natural enemies” by avoiding pesticides that kill them; choosing plants that provide them pollen, nectar, and shelter; and keeping ants out of pest-infested plants. Common predators that eat outdoor pests are pictured below.

Convergent lady beetle adults   Convergent lady beetle larvae

Convergent lady beetle adults (left) and most reddish lady beetle species prefer aphids. Their larvae (right) prefer aphids but sometimes eat whiteflies and other soft-bodied insects.

Lady beetle eggs

Lady beetle eggs are oblong, widest in their middle, usually yellowish or orange, and can be laid in groups or individually.

Soldier beetle adults

Soldier beetle adults eat mostly aphids. Their soil-dwelling larvae eat beetle and moth eggs and larvae.

Green lacewing adults   Green lacewing larvae

Green lacewing adults (left) eat nectar and pollen. Some species also eat insects. Lacewing larvae (right) feed on mites, eggs, and small insects, especially aphids.

Green lacewing eggs

Green lacewing eggs are laid on slender stalks in groups (as shown here) or individually, depending on the species.


Spiders, including this crab spider, attack all types of insects.

Syrphid fly larvae   Syrphid fly (flower fly, hover fly) adults

Syrphid fly (flower fly, hover fly) adults eat pollen and nectar and resemble honey bees and wasps. The larvae (right) eat mostly aphids but also soft-bodied mealybugs, psyllids, and whiteflies.

Predaceous ground beetle adults   Predaceous ground beetle larvae

Predaceous ground beetle adults (left) stalk soil-dwelling insects, such as cutworms and root maggots. Their larvae (right) live on soil and in litter, feeding on almost any invertebrate.

Assassin bugs attack almost any insect.

Assassin bugs attack almost any insect.

Pirate bugs

Pirate bugs attack mites and any tiny insect, especially thrips.

Western predatory mites

Western predatory mites attack pest mites.

Sixspotted thrips

Sixspotted thrips attack mostly mites.

Adults of predatory wasps

Predatory wasps, such as this paper wasp, prey on caterpillars and other insects.

Praying mantids

Praying mantids may control pests, but they also eat other beneficials.


Minimize the use of pesticides that pollute our waterways. Use nonchemical alternatives or less toxic pesticide products whenever possible. Read product labels carefully and follow instructions on proper use, storage, and disposal.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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