National Insect Appreciation Day, which falls on June 8 this year, is an online celebration for insect enthusiasts, amateurs, and entomology professionals, promoted by the Entomology Society of Canada.
John Gavloski, provincial entomologist for Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development, recently joined Lyndsey Smith to talk about the day and how to show your appreciation (and encourage) beneficial insects.
This year, Gavloski is showing particular appreciation for tiger beetles — metallic coloured ground beetles that are very quick and predate on other insects. “For anyone who’s a farmer, gardener, they have quite a valuable role,” says Gavloski.
Much of our focus often lands on pest insects, but we know that there are predators, parasites, and other friends down below in the canopy and Gavloski says it’s important to consider those beneficials in the farm management plan. Pollinators improving yields, is a great example of why beneficial insects are an integral part of the agro-ecosystem.
“The other thing that probably doesn’t get appreciated enough, is insects are a valuable part of decomposition,” says Gavloski. “Whether it’s the stubble in your field, or the dung in your pastures, or dead animals, insects are decomposing all these things, and things would get pretty messy if it wasn’t for having those decomposers around.”
As a side bonus, Gavloski says that some insects like several members of the hugely diverse ground beetle group, will eat weed seeds a large part of their diet. Field crickets are another example that will eat a lot of things, including grasshopper eggs, apple maggot pupae, plant material, and larger weed seeds — redroot pigweed and lamb’s quarters.
So as a farmer, what can you do to encourage populations of beneficial insects? Catch the full interview for Gavloski’s list of ways to maximize the benefits of beneficial insects, and minimize the harm of pests: