Why Ladybugs are Beneficial Insects for Your Garden

ladybug on leaf
ladybug on leaf

When you start a garden, it won’t be long before pests arrive. Don’t panic; insects that feed on your plants can never be fully eradicated. They’re part of the ecosystem, and that’s okay!

A healthy ecosystem also includes natural predators of plant-eating bugs. 

Ladybugs are beneficial insects– perhaps the most beneficial insects you can introduce to your garden. Learn more about these naturally beneficial insects and discover how BugTech can help you with pest management!

Natural Aphid Control

ladybug is eating aphids: Why Ladybugs are Beneficial Insects

Aphids are a common pest in gardens. They reproduce rapidly and feast on plant sap. This can weaken your garden plants and cause illness or infection. Aphids are soft-bodied, which means they can be treated with soapy water. 

However, introducing ladybugs is a much easier and more eco-friendly solution. These beneficial insects’ favorite food is aphids. They’ll munch through aphid populations swiftly and deter other aphids from arriving. An adult ladybug will consume green, black, and wooly aphids cheerfully.

Once you establish a nesting ladybug population in your garden, their larvae will feast on aphids like there’s no tomorrow. Ladybug larvae can consume dozens of aphids each day. Once they grow up, they’ll keep eating!

Dealing with Mites and Other Hard-to-Treat Pests

Ladybugs are beneficial insects and are among the few natural predators of spider mites and other resilient pests. A healthy ladybug population will happily feast on tough mites and even tiny spiders, so you won’t have to resort to insecticides.

Mites and small flies avoid areas where ladybug larvae grow, so cultivating a population in your backyard is a great idea. These pests are difficult to treat with homemade solutions, and ladybugs are often your best bet.

How to Introduce Ladybugs To Your Garden

beautiful, urban front yard spring garden features a large veranda, brick paver walkway, retaining wall with plantings of bulbs, shrubs and perennials for colour

When you start a garden, the best outcome is that pests and their natural predators arrive independently. You may not need to do anything. However, if you’ve noticed an abundance of aphids on your plants and not a ladybug in sight, you can introduce a population. 

Here’s how:

  • Ensure that there’s a flourishing population of aphids. They’ll only stay if there’s food!
  • Introduce ladybugs in the evening or early morning to help them establish themselves.
  • Mist the plants before introducing a ladybug population.

Ladybugs are beneficial insects but they may not always stick around. They’ll typically feast on the aphid population if introduced properly, but there’s no guarantee they’ll nest in the same area. 

The best way to encourage ladybugs to nest is with a diverse, vibrant garden. This gives them options for nesting away from their feeding grounds.

Identifying Visiting Ladybugs

Note that not all visiting ladybugs are welcome visitors. While they still eat aphids, the Asian Lady Beetle or Harlequin Ladybird can rapidly become a household pest and even kill native ladybugs.

If you notice an abundance of new ladybugs in your yard, check the markings on their backs to help you identify them!

Create a Healthy Garden Ecosystem by Introducing Ladybugs!

Introducing a flourishing ladybug population to your garden is a great way to control pests naturally. Introduce these beneficial insects to keep your garden balanced and healthy!

How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets and Save Your Summer

A portrait of a yellow jacket on a white background.
A portrait of a yellow jacket on a white background.

There is nothing sweeter than family get-togethers, grill-outs, and the warm Minnesota sun on your skin. For a brief moment, it seems as though nothing can get in your way of a perfect summer. That is until the flock of bugs emerge, and worst of all, the dreaded yellow jackets. 

Insects can dramatically hinder your happiness this season. If you find an infestation in your yard, here’s how to get rid of yellow jackets safely. 

Environmental Pest Management offers pest control services in the Metro Twin Cities area and surrounding suburbs. We use safe products for both the environment and your family. Make your summer the best yet with a yellow jacket-free yard and home when you give us a call

How to Identify a Yellow Jacket

A closeup side view of a yellow jacket.

To the untrained eye, a honey bee and a yellow jacket might be the same. While they look similar, their behavior can be very different, with yellow jackets being more aggressive. There are several things to look for to spot a yellow jacket. 

The first thing to keep in mind is that a yellow jacket is less furry than a honey bee and a bumblebee. The fur on a bee helps it pollinate plants. Yellowjackets rely on hunting insects and even seeking out human food instead of feeding from plants.  

The predatory nature of yellow jackets also leads them to travel in larger groups than other types of stinging insects. If you see a swarm, you are much more likely to be looking at a yellow jacket. You are more likely to see them swarm in the summer season when their preferred insect meals become less plentiful.  

The final and most obvious way to tell is by the black and yellow bodies that motivated the name. It’s true that bees also have striping, but it is more visible on a yellow jacket due to having less fur. You can notice the striping more when looking at the head of the insect. 

Yellowjackets don’t exclusively nest underground but are the most likely to do so. They are most likely to occupy a hole dug by a rodent. If you see many insects flying out of a hole in the summer, you are likely observing a yellow jacket nest.

Yellow Jacket Nests

A yellow jacket nest underground. The first thing to consider when figuring out how to get rid of yellow jackets is locating their nest.

The unfortunate thing about yellow jackets is that they can pretty much be found anywhere humans are located. This is because they prefer eating many of the same foods that we do. 

Yellow Jackets fly in a straight line, known as a beeline, useful if you try to locate a potential nest location. Look for an area in your yard that is hit directly by the sun, and see if you can notice any insects flying by repeatedly. If you see this, you are likely to be close to a hive.

It is a common misconception that bees and yellow jackets only create hives above ground. This is, unfortunately, not the case. Check rodent holes for nests, and if they are empty, make sure to fill these holes. Be careful and watch your step in case there are other nests nearby. 

You are most likely to notice a yellow jacket nest in late summer and early fall. The rest of the year, the low overnight temperatures are still too low for active bugs.

How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets Safely

A single yellow jacket building a small nest

If you feel like you have a Yellow Jacket nest nearby, locate and mark the yellow jacket nests in broad daylight.

It is not recommended for you to try to get rid of Yellow Jackets yourself. Yellow Jackets are highly aggressive, and even seasoned technicians get stung when trying to treat this pest.

If a Yellow Jacket gets squashed, it releases a pheromone that attracts and incites others of its species. Because of this, people often find themselves getting stung multiple times.

For these reasons, it’s recommended you get a professional to get rid of the nest. Then, you can take preventative measures to deter them from coming back.

How to Prevent Yellow Jackets

A lemon tree with fallen fruit on the ground. Rotting fruit can attract yellow ajckets and other pests to your yard.

When gathering outside, there are ways to prevent those pesky yellow jackets from joining you in the first place. Inspect your yard frequently to stay on top of everything. 

If you have pets or problems with other kinds of pests, you may have a yard full of several holes. Work on filling the holes with dirt to prevent yellow jackets from creating underground nesting hives.

Scraps of cardboard and old wood should be discarded or stored securely. Yellowjackets will frequently build nests out of this kind of material. 

Outside trash containers should be regularly cleaned and sprayed with insecticides before filling the bin. Double-check that the lids fit tightly, so there is no room for the bugs to sneak in. Don’t carelessly dispose of food, be sure to put food in air-tight bags first. Keeping the outside of the bins clean will also help prevent them from looking around this area for a food source. 

If you have a garden or fruit trees in your yard, keep an eye for falling produce. Rotten fruit lying around is a big attractor for yellow jackets, and clearing them out of the way will go a long way. 

Who Can I Call if I Need Assistance to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets?

Three yellow jackets in a glass of lemonade

Environmental Pest Management offers pest control services in the Metro Twin Cities area and surrounding suburbs. We use safe products for both the environment and your family. Contact us today for a free quote, and spend the rest of your summer relaxing.

How to Successfully Get Rid of and Prevent Japanese Beetle Grubs

A portrait Japanese Beetle grub
A portrait Japanese Beetle grub

Japanese Beetle: two words that strike fear into the heart of every lawn-lover and gardener in the United States. 

Japanese Beetle grubs have become one of the biggest problems Minnesotans face each summer. Instead of living in fear of them, you can get to work by trying to control their massive population.  

Environmental Pest Management is here to help you successfully reduce Japanese Beetle Grub populations. They utilize integrated preventive measures along every stage of the beetle’s life cycle. 

When the bugs get to be too much, it’s time to call in the professionals. If you find yourself infested with pests like Japanese beetles, contact Environmental Pest Management. Your free consultation awaits!

Where to Begin? 

japanese beetle portrait

Treating your yard for beetle infestations can be a bit tricky. Like the infamous chicken and egg question, it’s hard to pinpoint where to start. Let’s begin! 

Identification

First, be aware of what creature you are up against. The predator that strips plants to the bone and leaves lawns aghast is a creature no bigger than your fingernail. 

The beetle’s shells have a shimmery-green head and rust-colored wings. Deceptively mundane looking, they can be highly destructive. You can see evidence of its presence from early Spring to late Fall. 

Life Cycle

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Photo courtesy of Japanese Beetle Management in Minnesota, University of Minnesota

Once identified, it’s helpful to know the Japanese beetle’s entire life cycle from start to finish. 

During the summer mating season, female Japanese beetles can lay eggs. They can lay up to 60 at a time into the soil. This process can happen anywhere from July-September when adult beetles emerge. 

After the eggs hatch, they become grubs. The grubs quickly grow, and white grubs feed on the root systems of lawns and gardens, creating turf damage. Homeowners will commonly see spotty dead spots and patches on lawns

Once grubs have formed and begun their harmful eating, they essentially go through a two-staged process before emerging into adults. The first grub stage is in the Fall when they are new grubs. 

When temperatures begin to drop, the grubs will then burrow deep underground and lay dormant through the winter months. 

The second grub stage begins after the ground thaws. Destruction begins when these slightly more mature grubs viciously feed on root systems in lawns once again.  

After this, the mature grub then begins its metamorphosis into the pupa. Quickly after that, the adult beetle emerges, wreaking havoc on just about every edible plant around. Mating happens, and the process begins all over again. 

Countless plants are susceptible to beetle damage. Gardeners will notice the almost immediate destruction of roses, raspberries, apple trees, beans, and other plants; all brought about by adult beetles. 

The entire life cycle process from start to finish goes largely unnoticed until it’s too late. 

Don’t be discouraged! With Environmental Pest Management here to help, there is still time to disrupt and kill the pests during any stage of their life cycle. 

Japanese Beetle Reduction Process

A Japanese Beetle on a leaf

Even though it takes an entire year or more, the whole life cycle of the Japanese beetle from start to finish is quite simple. However, the means to eradicate them can get a bit tricky. 

Timing is everything. 

Once again, the chicken/egg problem emerges. Thankfully, prevention can start at virtually any stage of its life cycle. As long as it is continued and maintained, beetle population reduction is possible. 

For this example, we will go through the stages starting at the second grub stage when ground thaw occurs in the Spring. 

Spring Grub Stage 

Grub control products for lawn care are found at many home and garden stores. Most of these are chemical-based except for Milky Spore and Neem oils. 

Milky Spore is a natural product that can provide benefits. Even though the product claims to provide lawn assistance, unfortunately, no science currently backs its success. 

Adult Stage

A shiny Japanese Beetle in the adult stage

The next stage to attempt population reduction is the adult stage. This happens in early to mid-July when adults emerge from the ground. Their destructive presence is unmistakable. Gardeners across the US want them as far away from plants as possible. 

Using Japanese beetle traps is an easy and effective option. These contain pheromones which produce an attractive scent the beetle follows right into the well-designed trap. 

It’s best to place the traps in multiple locations around your yard. Traps can fill quickly, so you will want to make sure you have backups as well. 

There are also protective products you can put on your plants to kill or deter the beetles. Conventional and organic options are available at most stores. However, if you have the time, the absolute best option is to hand-pick them off into a bucket of soapy water. 

Breeding and Egg-Laying Stage

Once the egg stage begins, control measures get slightly more advanced. Popular insecticides work well for turf, but they will need re-application after any rainfall. This can get time-consuming for homeowners trying to keep up with endless to-do lists. 

Fall Grub Stage 

Finally, in our example, we reach the fall primary grub stage. Treatment is the same as spring mature grub control. You can apply more granular grub control products from late August into early November or until the ground freezes. 

Prevention is Possible! 

A pest control specialist spray a lawn to help prevent Japanese Beetle grubs

Though it can be challenging, controlling the Japanese beetle population is possible. It takes proper timing, dedication, and persistence. Prevention is always best when it comes to any pest type. 

Knowing your enemy and the ways to combat them are great tools to have in your arsenal. Sometimes even the best defense is no match for the plethora of Japanese beetles. 

When the bugs get to be too much, it’s time to call in the professionals! If you are struggling with your Japanese beetle population, contact the experts at Environmental Pest Management. 

Minnesotans only get a few months to relish, don’t waste yours battling a never-ending enemy. Don’t let Japanese beetles ruin any more of your yard or precious ornamentals. 

Contact us at Environmental Pest Management for a free quote today! Let us help you have a stress-free and Japanese beetle-free summer!

7 Tips to Help Keep Pests Out of Crawl Spaces

A crawl space with wooden beams and yellow insulation.
A crawl space with wooden beams and yellow insulation.

Do you know what’s lurking beneath your home? Do you know how to keep pests out of your crawl space? 

If you haven’t been down there for a while, chances are you’ve acquired a few pests. Crawl spaces are notorious for attracting all kinds of bugs and rodents. 

If untreated, these pests can eventually make their way into your home. Thankfully, Environmental Pest Management is here to help. 

We provide safe and effective pest management year-round. 

With regular treatment, we can help protect the foundation of your home by keeping pests out of your crawl space. We are located in Burnsville, MN, but we service the greater Twin Cities Metro area. 

We offer residential, commercial, and multi-family services as well as TAP insulation. Schedule a free crawl space inspection with Environmental Pest Management today!

Common Pests Your Crawl Space Attracts

A vole peaking out from under a deck

No crawl space is fully immune to bugs and rodents. However, if you stay up to date with regular inspections and treatment from Environmental Pest Management, your chances improve significantly. 

Certain types of vermin are common to crawl spaces in Minnesota. You may encounter the following:

  • Bats
  • Chipmunks 
  • Mice
  • Moles
  • Rats
  • Squirrels
  • Voles

In addition to mammals, insects are notorious for clustering in dark, damp spaces. Common insects found in your crawl space include:

  • Bees and Wasps
  • Beetles
  • Carpenter Ants
  • Cockroaches
  • Earwigs
  • Silverfish
  • Termites

Let’s look at some effective prevention measures you can take to ward off any unwelcome guests. 

Tip #1: Keep Pests Out Of Your Crawl Space By Deep Cleaning and Removing Pest Attractors

A person using a spray bottle to deep clean. Regular cleaning is one way to help keep pests out of crawl spaces.

Crawl spaces are great for storage. However, make sure it contains absolutely no food of any kind, even pet food. 

Pests live and breed near food, including sealed food. Foods attract pests, so make sure your space is devoid of any and all. 

If yours does happen to contain food, make sure to remove it promptly. Then once cleared, give your crawl space a thorough deep cleaning to eliminate any crumbs or remnants. 

Cleaning your crawl space helps fend away pest activity. 

Tip #2: Remove External Debris and Foliage

A homewoner trimming hedges around their home to help keep pests out of crawl spaces.

The bushes and shrubs surrounding your home are natural habitats for all kinds of critters. Making sure your home’s exterior is clear will help prevent infestation. 

Many invasive bugs are attracted to certain types of foliage. For instance, the boxelder bug is known for being attracted to the boxelder tree, from which its name originates. 

Other pests and rodents are attracted to fruit trees and sweet perennials like hostas and roses. Stinkbugs and chipmunks love anything sweet and are notorious for hiding indoors when cold weather hits. 

Foliage from nearby trees can push up against the house, creating damp hiding places suitable for pests. Keep pests out of your crawl space by clearing all loose debris away from your foundation walls. 

Tip #3: Seal Cracks and Openings 

An unsealed foundation crack in a home.

Once the debris has been cleared away, it will be easier to spot any cracks or openings in your foundation. 

Cracks are an open invitation for pests to enter your home. 

Seal these open cracks with caulking, foam insulation, wood, or cement blocks and replace any broken boards. 

Tip #4: Shine a Light 

Someone shining a flashlight to find pests in their crawl space

Most crawl space bugs and rodents will flee at the first sign of light. 

You can’t stay down in your basement or crawl space with a flashlight 24/7. But you can have simple LED lighting installed. 

Low-cost and energy-efficient LED bulbs will help keep pests away. And if your space has any appliance parts or piping, it will be easier to service them with proper lighting. 

Tip #5: Set Traps

A dead cockroach next to a pest control trap in a crawl space.

Setting traps is effective, cost-efficient, and they do the job of keeping pests out of your crawl space. Traps should be placed both inside and outside the home. 

Not all traps are created equal. Traps purchased through a local retailer work for the short term, but the poison wears out over time. 

Another “trap” is having a pet who hunts. Some cats are great hunters for vermin like mice and rats, and dogs will occasionally eat certain bugs. 

Keep pests out of your crawl space by letting your pets inspect the area. Just make sure you don’t have any poison traps around when they’re running loose.

Tip #6: Install Proper Ventilation 

A de-humidifer next to a moldy wall.

Crawl space rodents and insects thrive in humid environments. To lower humidity and moisture levels, install a dehumidifier. 

While dehumidifiers are a quick fix, a ventilation system is best at keeping mold, mildew, and wood rot at bay. Vents can both open and close, which adapts well to Minnesota’s constantly changing weather. 

Most new homes are built with crawl space ventilation systems. However, if your home is older, you will want to remove and replace moisture-rotted beams before installation. 

Dirt and concrete walls and flooring will help further prevent moisture from spreading. 

Each state’s HVAC IRC code varies, but most ventilators are required to cover 150 square feet of crawl space. Be sure to check with your city’s code to make sure you have enough. 

Tip #7: Crawl Space Encapsulation

A vapor barrier being installed to help keep pests out of crawl spaces.

The most effective way to control moisture levels, create a vapor barrier, and seal off any cracks is plastic encapsulation. 

A 20-millimeter thick encapsulation will create a plastic vapor barrier in your crawl space. It will cover the floor, walls, and ceilings, so pests can’t enter your crawl space. 

Regular Inspections Are Best

A pest specialist explaining something to a customer.

Regular and frequent inspections in and around your home are the best prevention against unwanted pests.  

Find out more about Professional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) by Environmental Pest Management. This service will ensure your home stays pest-free for as long as you own the home. 

Environmental Pest Management will answer any WHAT, WHY, HOW, and WHEN questions you may have. Their unique solutions will help get to the root of the problem. 

After identifying the source, they will help you take the appropriate measures to protect the foundation of your home. 

With Environmental Pest Management, you can prevent pests from entering your crawl space with regular inspections and treatment.  

Schedule your free crawl space inspection with Environmental Pest Management today!

Keep Those Bugs At Bay! How Does Bug Spray Work?

A parent spraying their child wit bug spray while doing outdoor activities.
A parent spraying their child wit bug spray while doing outdoor activities.

Bugs are part of summer, and so is bug spray. But how does bug spray work, and is it safe? Today you will learn all you need to know about everything bug spray. 

Summer is the best time of the year. There’s nothing quite like getting together with your friends and family, basking in the sun, and enjoying your backyard. 

There are endless opportunities for day trips, including going to the lake or a park. Unfortunately, a day outside often ends with the family covered in bug bites, and that itching can last for weeks. 

Environmental Pest Management provides bug control services in the Metro Twin Cities area and surrounding suburbs. We use safe products to protect the planet and your family. 

When bug spray isn’t enough for your yard, give us a call! 

What Is Bug Spray Made Of?

A backpacker spraying their legs with bug spray made with DEET.

Bug spray is excellent for making sure you’re not covered in itchy dots at the end of the day. 

Over the years, you’ve probably noticed the weird smell of many sprays, which has to do with the various ingredients. The main ingredient you will find in most bug sprays is DEET (also known as N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide.) 

DEET was first produced in 1944 as a pesticide in farm crops. DEET has been found to be slightly poisonous to some freshwater fish, but it is EPA-approved.

A study was released in 2014 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) It stated that “The Agency has not identified any risks of concern to human health.”

Many common sprays contain lemon eucalyptus oil. It serves as both an insect repellent and a remedy for killing certain types of fungus. 

Researchers say that the oil is as effective and long-lasting as products containing DEET and is a better natural alternative. 

Another ingredient that you are likely familiar with is citronella oil, which you can also find in candle form. 

Citronella is derived from an Asian grass plant known as the Cymbopogon genus. The plant produces a citrus-like aroma.

It is less protective than DEET, often only lasting for around 3 hours before you need to reapply.

Bug repellents work by irritating insects, so they don’t land on you. Natural alternatives also encourage bugs to leave the area.

How Does Bug Spray Work?

A small blonde child being swarmed by mosquitos.

You apply bug spray on a regular basis, but do you know exactly how it works?

The average bug spray isn’t designed to kill bugs but instead fights them off. 

Bug spray works by disguising the scent of your body from bugs. 

Bugs, like mosquitos and ticks, are attracted to the carbon dioxide that the human body produces. 

Carbon dioxide is released from the body through your sweat glands, pores, and even your breath. Pests associate this smell with a food source. 

Pests find the smell of bug sprays repulsive, which helps to keep them away. Try to stay away from lavender and basil as they are highly attracted to these scents. 

Insecticides

A pest control worker using insecticides in a client's kitchen. Clients often ask pest control specialists how does bug spray work?

While bug spray is a repellent, insecticides are used to kill bugs such as ants, cockroaches, and hornets. There are so many different kinds of insecticides because the goal of these sprays is to administer a quick death. 

The chemicals do this by causing paralysis and attacking their central nervous systems.

There is a flower called Pyrethrins, which produces natural insecticides. The flowers look similar to daisies and have been used for hundreds of years to kill bugs and head lice. 

Pyrethroids are synthetic chemicals in Insecticides that mimic the effects of the flower. This chemical is most commonly used in wasp and hornet sprays. 

Insecticides are best used late at night. A hive tends to be less lively at night, and they are less likely to attack you when you spray. 

While bug spray works by getting insects out of the area, insecticides work by killing the pests.

Are Bug Sprays Safe?

Someone spraying a can of blue bug spray into the air.

DEET, the most common active ingredient found in household bug sprays, is a pretty controversial topic. Although the EPA registered DEET without any expected health concerns, DEET is an irritant that can often cause rashes. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns parents not to use DEET on children under two months of age. But other than that, there are no age restrictions. 

Surprisingly, the only repellent with an active age restriction is the oil of the lemon eucalyptus plant. They state that it should not be used for children under three years old. 

Natural Alternatives

Two class amber-colored bottles filled with eucalyptus oil.

As mentioned above, lemon eucalyptus oil is a widely used natural alternative to most repellent sprays. There are also alternatives to harsh chemicals that kill bugs on the spot, though they may not be as effective. 

Soap sprays have been found useful for killing pests like mites, psyllids (plant lice), and whiteflies. The sprays work by covering the bugs in soap which cuts off their oxygen supply, essentially suffocating them. 

You can make your own soap spray simply by putting some mild liquid soap in a spray bottle. While less effective than a commercial spray, it is completely non-toxic. 

Diatomaceous Earth is a powder you can find in most gardening aisles, which acts as miniature shards of glass. The powder works best against bugs that crawl, like ants, maggots, spiders, and worms. 

Apply it around vulnerable plants, and pests will be torn up when they crawl through it. Diatomaceous Earth only works when dry, so if it storms, you must sprinkle more. 

There are also various species of plants that can be put in your yard that act as a natural repellent. To find out more information, visit our article on 7 Plants that Help to Keep Mosquitos Away.

Are you sick of researching ways to deal with bugs? 

A woman using bug spray to keep mosquitos away.

Whether you’re looking for management at home or at your business, Environmental Pest Management is here to help. We are located in Burnsville, MN. We serve the Twin Cities area and surrounding suburbs. Head over to our website to get a free quote today!