Are ladybugs dangerous?
Ladybugs won't hurt you. But they are dangerous to some other insects! This ladybug is eating plant-harming bugs known as aphids. Since they have an appetite for aphids, ladybugs are a farmer's friend.
Though insects can be very important, some are also considered pests. Common insect pests include:
- Parasitic insects, such as mosquitoes, lice, and bed bugs.
- Insects that transmit diseases, including mosquitoes and flies.
- Insects that damage structures, such as termites (Figure below).
- Insects that destroy crops, including locusts and weevils.
Termites can destroy wooden structures.
Many scientists who study insects are involved in various forms of pest control. Most utilize insect-killing chemicals, but more and more rely on other methods. Ways to control insect pests are described below.
Biological control of pests in farming is a method of controlling pests by using other insects. Insect predators, such as ladybugs and lacewings, consume a large number of other insects during their lifetime. If you add ladybugs to your farm or garden, they will help keep insect pests, such as aphids, under control.
Insecticides are most often used to kill insects. Insecticides are chemicals that kill insects. The U.S. spends $9 billion each year on pesticides. Disadvantages to using pesticides include human, fish, and honeybee poisonings, and the contamination of meat and dairy products.
biological control: Control of pests by using organisms that are their natural predators.
insecticide: Chemical used to kill insects.
- Harmful insects include those that can destroy buildings and crops or transmit disease.
- Insecticides are commonly used to control insect pests, but they can have harmful effects on the environment.
Use the resources below to answer the questions that follow.
- How are farmers seeking to control diamondback moths (Plutella xylostella)?
- What advantage does this approach have over introducing an insect predator to control the moths?
- What is a danger of introducing a new insect as a biological control mechanism?
- Why do people like biological control for food crops?
- What are some examples of insect pests?
- What are some disadvantages to pesticides?