Deadly insects © Getty Images

Five deadly assassins

We investigate a few of nature's most deadly hitmen.

1

Ladybird

LATIN NAME: Coccinellidae
WHERE IT OPERATES: Globally, with over 5000 species described. Some are in themselves classed as pests.
TARGET: Aphids (greenfly and blackfly), which are among the most destructive pests in temperate climates.

Advertisement
2

Hoverfly

LATIN NAME: Syrphidae
WHERE IT OPERATES: Globally, apart from deserts and Arctic tundra.
TARGET: Aphids and leafhoppers. The latter is a major pest to ornamental plants and flowers.

3

Rust fungus

Coffee leaf with rust fungus © Getty Images
Coffee leaf with rust fungus © Getty Images

LATIN NAME: Maravalia cryptostegiae
WHERE IT OPERATES: Australia, where it is used successfully as a biocontrol agent.
TARGET: The rubber vine weed, which is capable of smothering trees up to 40m high and destroying habitats for wildlife.

4

Lacewing

LATIN NAME:  Chrysoperla
WHERE IT OPERATES:North America and Europe.
TARGET:  Several species of aphids, spider mites, thrips, whiteflies, eggs of leafhoppers, moths, leafminers, small caterpillars, beetle larvae, tobacco budworm and long-tailed mealybug.

5

[Latin name only]

Grasshoppers killed by B. bassiana © Wikimedia Commons
Grasshoppers killed by B. bassiana © Wikimedia Commons

LATIN NAME: Beauveria bassiana
WHERE IT OPERATES: Globally.
TARGET: Termites, whitefly, beetles. This fungus, which occurs naturally in soils, covers the bugs in a white mould that kills them within days.


Advertisement

Follow Science Focus on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and Flipboard