Not all insects you see in your garden are intent on destroying and consuming your plants. In fact, beneficial insects are part of a natural biological control method which keeps your garden healthy – while helping minimize costs. In this blog we will discuss how to identify which bugs to attract and keep on your property, and which insects you need to banish immediately.
Types of Beneficial Insects
There are three main types of beneficial insects, defined in terms of how they interact with your garden. These are known as pollinators, predators, and parasitizers.
- Pollinators: These insects are essential to the survival of most of our flowers and food crops. They assist in plant reproduction and help maintain genetic variation in plants. While some plants are able to self-pollinate, species including apples and cherries are unable to self-pollinate and therefore can only reproduce with the help of pollinators. Bees, ants, beetles, butterflies, moths, and some wasps are all pollinator species.
- Predators: Beneficial predators consume pest insects. While they likely won’t eliminate the entire population, they’ll keep the population in check and greatly reduce the damage pests do to your plants. Ladybugs, praying mantises, dragonflies, lacewings, and some beetles and wasps are great predators to have in your garden.
- Parasitizers: You don’t often hear of parasites being a good thing! However, there are a few insect species that will parasitize pest insects. The adult parasite will lay their eggs on the host (in this case, the pest species). When the larvae hatch from the eggs, they will consume the host.
More About Good Insects
Ladybugs: These pretty predators eat aphids, whiteflies, and the Colorado potato beetle. To attract ladybugs, plant dill and dandelions throughout your yard.
Praying mantis: These fearsome predators will eat a wide variety of species including beetles, caterpillars, and grasshoppers. Marigolds and dill plants along with shrubs and tall grasses will create a haven for praying mantises.
Spiders: There are ambush spiders which live on the ground and wait for their prey, and then there are the well-known weaving spiders that catch prey in webs. Both types consume a large variety of pests and are great to have in any garden. Spiders aren’t picky–tall plants and mulch will keep most species happy.
Lacewings: Lacewings will eat aphids, mealybugs, leafhoppers, and whiteflies. Herbs including coriander, dill, and angelica will attract these delicate insects.
Aphid midges: Aphids plague many plant species, and these midges can do much to reduce your yard’s aphid population. Dill and other plants with large amounts of pollen will help attract aphid midges.
Ground beetles: Keep slugs, ants, and caterpillars in check with ground beetles. You can make your garden enticing for them by growing primrose and clover.
Braconid wasps: These parasites lay their eggs on hornworms, caterpillars and aphids. Herbs like yarrow, parsley, and lemon balm will make these wasps happy to live in your yard.
Are you still seeing more damage to your plants than you want? If the beneficial insects in your yard need some help, we offer many different pesticides to banish the bad guys and guard your plants from harm. In addition to the pesticides, Big Earth Landscape Supply carries the spreaders, sprayers and backpacks needed for application – as well as everything you need to cultivate a beautiful lawn and garden.