Predators are insects and other beneﬁcials that hunt for a living. They catch, kill, and eat other insects. In general, predators are free-living and as large as or larger than their prey. Predators are typically general feeders: they consume several or numerous prey over the course of their lives and they may feed on a wide variety of prey.
The predator may be a larva or adult which feeds on other insects in one or more stages of its life. Some types of predators, such as hover or syrphid ﬂies, are predatory only as immatures or larvae. Hover ﬂy larvae tend to prey primarily on aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and other soft-bodied insects. In contrast, adult hover ﬂies feed on the nectar and pollen from ﬂowers and may serve as pollinators.
Other types of predators start hunting as soon as they hatch into larvae and continue their predatory role throughout adulthood. Common examples of this group are lady beetles, some species of lacewings, and ground beetles. Many predators are generalists; they eat a wide variety of prey, such as assassin bugs and the praying mantis. A few are specialists and will dine on only one species or on a few closely related species.
Spiders can also serve a vital role as predators. Spiders are abundant and widespread and, best of all, a natural controller of insect populations. Spiders are beneﬁcial predators that reduce pest populations. They often-times play a primary role in biological control of pests in and around homes, yards, gardens, and crops.
Lizards make up one of the most diverse and successful groups of modern reptiles. Several types of lizards occur and none are harmful to humans or pets. In fact, these lizards are beneﬁcial, as they prey on a wide variety of small insects such as crickets, cockroaches, moths, grubs, beetles, ﬂies, and grasshoppers. They do not chew their food but swallow it whole.