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Backyard Beneficial Insects
Ladybird beetles a.k.a ladybugs
Ladybird beetle adults come in a variety of sizes and colors.  Many of them are some shade of red and often have spots.  Eggs are often laid in clusters near a food source, often aphids. The eggs are a yellowish-orange color and look like footballs sitting up on their end.  Most larvae are elongated and a blackish-grey color with orange markings.  Ladybird beetles pupate on the plant and pupae are non-moving.  The adults and larvae are the stages that help to control soft-bodied pests such as aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs and scale insects.
Praying Mantises
Praying mantises are general predators in the nymphal and adult stages.  They are also cannibalistic.  Adults are fairly large insects with an elongated prothorax and front legs modified for capturing prey.  Nymphs look similar to adults but are smaller and do not have fully developed wings.  Adult females lay egg cases on small twigs and branches.  At first the egg case looks like a frothy mass, but it soon hardens into an elongated, ridged case.
Spiders are not insects, but arachnids.  They have two body regions and eight legs which differentiates them from insects.  Spiders are a large group with many shapes, colors and sizes.  They are general predators as immatures and adults. 
There are many more beneficial creatures that help keep pest populations in check.  Before you decide to utilize a pesticide to manage a pest, take a closer look to see if nature is already controlling pests for you.
For more information or help with identification, contact Wizzie Brown, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Program Specialist at 512.854.9600.  Check out my blog at


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