by Mary Free and Christa Watters, Extension Master Gardeners
This post introduces the new word(s) added to our Illustrated Glossary. You may recognize some words as common gardening or botanical terms—although commonly used words are not necessarily commonly understood or their usage commonly agreed to. Other words may be more obscure, found mostly in flora guides and research papers. In any case we hope you find them interesting and even helpful in your gardening endeavors.
Left to right: Asian lady beetle larva, black swallowtail caterpillar, true white grub.
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Beneficial or pest or both? Larvae, the second life stage of insects like butterflies, moths, beetles, and flies that go through complete metamorphosis, can be herbivores, predators, or scavengers. Gardeners are largely concerned with the herbivores that can sometimes badly damage or destroy the host plants on which they feed on their way to adulthood. However, some of these herbivores become pollinators we want to attract to our gardens. Other larvae are predators that protect our plants by feeding on soft-bodied pests like aphids, mealy bugs, mites, and thrips. Can you tell the difference? To learn more, click here.