Let Natural Enemies Come to You -- What Kinds Can You Find at Lights at Night?

Leave the garage or porch light on for an hour or so after dark on a warm night and you're likely to lure in many different species of insects. In addition to the moths that are frequently attracted to lights at night (many of which are the adults of pest caterpillars), some natural enemies also show up.

What types of natural enemies can you find in your area coming to a light at night? Look for the adults of green lacewings with their beautiful golden eyes. Although they are not necessarily feeding on pest insects (some species are not predaceous as adults, others are not), they lay eggs that will hatch into hungry larvae ready to gobble up aphids and other soft-bodied insects. Ground beetles may also be found -- sometimes scurrying around on the ground looking to eat insects that have fallen down. Many species of stingless parasitic wasps come to lights at night too. Based on their size what do you think their host(s) might be?

- Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin-Madison


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