Hydroponics

Good Bugs

Pests and disease occur in hydroponic gardens, but you can combat these problems by recruiting good bugs to work hard for your harvest. These insects help to produce the ideal growing environment, resulting in flavorful, healthy and attractive plants.

Good bugs often eat the bad bugs and help you to reduce or avoid the use of pesticide in your hydroponic garden. In some cases, good bugs cannot tip the scale and chase off all of the bad bugs, so the use of pesticides may be necessary.

Examples of Good Bugs

Keep a few good guys around, or bring them into your garden when pests abound. Consider these common good bugs and learn the pests they combat:

Aphid Predators

The larva of this good bug will eat at least 10 aphids before reaching the final stage of development, often many more. Because aphid predators do not fly toward light, they are ideal for use in indoor gardens. Release between 100 and 250 to start fighting off an aphid infestation.

Whitefly Parasites

Not all parasites are bad, and many commercial growers and greenhouses use the whitefly parasite to combat pesky whiteflies. The eggs are shipped on a card, attached and ready to hatch in your garden. Experts recommend placing 500 parasites in your residential greenhouse at four different intervals (for a total of 2,000 parasites).

Ladybugs

Beautiful and a favorite with kids, ladybugs eat aphids and many other bad bugs over the course of their life. Use this good bug in large or small gardens, inside or out.

Green Lacewing

This good bug devours all sorts of pests, including mealybugs, aphids, soft scale, spider mite eggs, thrip eggs and whiteflies. Apply around 5,000 of these eggs per acre of garden.

House Fly Parasite

These parasites consume housefly pupae before they hatch, resulting in a severely reduced population. Expect each parasite to consume 50 flies in a three to four-week lifecycle. Use around 5,000 parasites in a large area and reapply every two weeks or so.

Mealybug Predators

Resembling tiny black ladybugs, commercial growers have relied on these good bugs for more than a century. They will consume mealybugs, but also snack on aphids and scale. Use two to five predators for each infected plant or simply use one predator in a small 24-inch square space. Apply bi-annually.

Pirate Bugs

Used on several different species to combat infestations of aphids, whiteflies, spider mites and thrips, pirate bugs can be used along with thrip predators. Use five to ten pirate bugs for every 100 square feet of garden space.

Praying Mantis

Majestic and solemn, this bug grows up to four inches long and will eat nearly any bug that comes along. Hatching takes place after several weeks of warm temperatures.

Spider Mite Destroyers

These bugs breed quickly, twice as fast as spider mites. They also consume up to twenty spider mite eggs or five full grown mites each day. You'll see a reduction in the spider mite population over time. Use one predator per twenty spider mites and expect to have the problem fully contained with six weeks.

Whitefly Predators

These good bugs work fast, eating a single whitefly larva in only 30 seconds. Bring a crowd of these predators into your hydroponic garden and watch them consume nearly 600 eggs each day. They thrive well in temperatures between 65 and 90 degrees and can be shaken onto foliage. Use between 300 and 500 predators per 1,000 square feet of garden space.

Fungus Gnat Predator

A natural alternative to insecticides laced with chemicals, these predators eat larvae of the fungus gnat while snacking on small pests like mites, springtails and thrips. Use 5,000 predators in a 200 square foot garden space.

Predator Mites

These bugs take control of spider mites within a 4-week period. They thrive in temperatures between 55 and 90 degrees and like humidity levels between 45 and 90 percent relative humidity. Use about 100 mites for every 25 square feet of garden space.

Thrip Predators

This good bug consumes immature thrips and may eat spider mites. Keep the humidity level between 70 and 85 percent and use between 100 and 500 predators for each infected plant.

Beneficial Nematodes

These high power bugs control more than 250 soil-dwelling insects, such as moths, fleas, loopers, weevils and borers. They will not touch your plants nor harm earthworms. Different than pest nematodes, this type of beneficial nematode is parasitic. It enters the body of its prey and destroys the bad bug. They are available in batches and stored in small sponges. One tiny 2-inch square sponge covers up to 2,000 square feet. Simply soak the sponge in water and then spray the liquid into the growing media. You can store beneficial nematodes in the fridge for up to 8 weeks.

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