Minute pirate bugs are the kind of guests you want at holiday dinners: They will attack almost any insect, but they commonly feed on thrips, spider mites, and small caterpillars.
Minute pirate bugs are found throughout North America; some species are also sold commercially.
All stages of pirate bugs are voracious predators of thrips, spider mites, small caterpillars, leafhopper nymphs, other small insects, and insect eggs. They are adept at finding prey deep inside flowers and are particularly good predators of thrips. Adults also feed on pollen.
Adults are quick-moving, black-and-white-patterned bugs, 1?4 inch long, with wings folded flat over the abdomen. Nymphs are shiny, oval, and up to 1?5 inch long. They are wingless until the final molt to adults; their color changes from yellow to orange to mahogany brown as they grow.
Getting Them on Your Side
` Plant pollen and nectar plants, especially goldenrod, daisies, yarrow, and alfalfa. ` Collect pirate bugs on goldenrod in fall and move them to the garden. ` In greenhouses, release purchased or wild-collected pirate bugs at the rate of one adult per one to five plants.