Beneficial Bug: The Hover Fly
Familiar garden predators like ladybugs and praying mantises often get all the credit for controlling bad bugs. Check out what this largely unsung backyard hero can do.
What's not to like about an insect that eats harmful garden bugs and pollinates flowers?
When it's young, the hover fly feeds voraciously on soft-bodied insects like aphids, scale, thrips and caterpillars. The adult feeds on nectar and, in so doing, inadvertently moves pollen from flower to flower. As colony collapse disorder continues to decimate large numbers of honeybees, the hover fly has stepped up in importance as a backup pollinator.
This critter resembles a small bee, but it's a bona fide member of the fly family. It doesn't sting. Like flies, it has two wings rather than four. But unlike many other insects, it executes telltale aerial maneuvers: it can suspend flight in mid-air, then dart quickly backward, forward or sideways.
In spring you can often find the young adults visiting flowers and foliage. Avoid using pesticides — even insecticidal soaps — and you'll likely see more. It's good to have this insect patrolling your garden. As a significant pollinator and bad-bug eater, the hover fly is an especially good friend to anyone who grows vegetables and fruits.
10 Ways to Add Value to Homes
Increase value with budget-conscious projects that will bolster resale price.
Shovel: A Garden Must-Have
The shovel is one of the most useful, and perhaps most used, gardening tools.
How to Implement Your Landscape Plan
Learn how to transform dreamy drawings into a property that's beautiful, enjoyable and adds value to your real estate.
13 Steps to Prep Your Home for Vacation
Rest easy on your next vacation, knowing your house is in order - and ready for your return.
Sealing Building Penetrations
Learning how to properly seal building penetrations will help reduce utility bills, prevent drafts and stop the infiltration of moisture.
Surviving a Landscaping Remodel
Get tips for managing your expectations and minimizing stress while redoing your outdoor spaces.
Starting a Landscaping Project
Here's how to create a plan, choose plants, set a budget and hire contractors.
The Essentials of a Sanctuary Garden
Tips for creating a relaxing oasis in your garden.
Stormwater Management the Natural Way
Smart builders ease overloaded water systems by letting nature take its course.
Energy Answers: Weatherization Assistance Program
Comprenhensive approach needed despite expanded access.
We're serving up the latest news, gorgeous style, crafty DIY projects, clever entertaining tips and more. Consider these your design digests.