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Pest hunters at the front

The 5 most curious beneficial insects in apple orchards

Have you ever wondered who defends your apples in Val Venosta? Most of you would say the farmers, of course, with meticulous inspection rounds and skillful movements. That’s true but tiny creatures do a large part of the work, too. There is a whole series of pest enemies that are sly dogs. No matter if predator mites or woolly aphid parasites – the name of the 5 most curious beneficial insects in the apple orchards says it all. Get to know them!

Predator mites

Predator mites resemble tiny drops that, depending on the type, gleam red, transparent or amber. They sit on the underside of the leaves and along leaf-veins and gorge on apple bud mites and spider mites. The apple producers are delighted because these pests are a threat to their trees and apples.

Curious: Predator mites use their mouthparts to suck the liquid content of their prey and their eggs. Pretty wild but this is nature. Eating and being eaten…

Green lacewings

Green lacewings and their larvae are other small heroes of the apple orchards. They love aphids and spider mites and can eat up to 500 of them. And Val Venosta’s apple producers wish them a good appetite.

Curious: Green lacewings are masters of camouflage. Thanks to their filigree green bodies they can hunt lice undisturbed and well camouflaged against their enemies in summer. When it gets cooler, their color adapts to the one of autumn leaves.

Woolly aphid parasites

Their name sounds macabre but they deserve it. Woolly aphid parasites directly lay their eggs in the host. When their larvae hatch, they sap from the host until they are adult. They only return to the hollowed bodies of woolly apple acids for overwintering. Quirky but completely natural!

Woolly apple aphids reduce both shoot growth and bud formation. They also soil the beautiful fruits and the apple producers’ diligent hands. So it’s a mercy that woolly aphid parasites are fond of them.
Promoting diversity
Why biodiversity is so incredibly important
Promoting diversity
Biodiversi… what? Biodiversity may be a complicated word but the principle behind it is simple: Many different creatures mean a healthy ecosystem. If every player has an opponent, pests can’t multiply so rapidly and threaten the harvest. This is why Val Venosta’s apple producers focus on biodiversity and promote diversity in their orchards. Because more beneficial insects means less artificial pesticides!

Lesser mite destroyers

Lesser mite destroyers look unimpressive and cute but their mouthparts are lethal, at least for spider mites. Lesser mite destroyers love eating spider mites and thus prevent sick leaves, a decline in shoots, smaller fruit sizes and russet apple skin.

Curious: Lesser mite destroyers are dwarfs among ladybirds due to their size of maximal 1.5 mm but when it comes to eating spider mites, they are in no way inferior to their conspecifics.

Kissing bugs

Flower bugs, red capsid bugs and damsel bugs are the names of some of the kissing bugs living in the apple orchards. The names of their favorite prey animals sound at least equally strange but there is nothing to laugh about because spider mites, aphids or pear psylla can cause considerable damage. So it’s much better to have them in the stomachs of kissing bugs than in Val Venosta’s apple orchards.

Curious: Kissing bugs sit on watch: They can eat up to 200 spider mites!

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