15 Beneficial Insects and Bugs for Your Garden

15 Beneficial Pests and Bugs for Your Garden

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Most people try to rid their gardens of bugs and insects, but a lot of these little creatures can actually benefit your garden. Beneficial pests help protect your plants from insects that have the potential to cause a lot of harm. You should view them as protectors; they help defend and maintain your garden.

It is important to know which bugs and insects are beneficial and which ones can cause harm, so that you don’t eliminate the helpful ones. There are numerous beneficial insects that you can attract, but some of the most familiar can be found below.

Earthworms

Earthworm

Most women hate the sight of these slimy creatures, but they can have some tremendous benefits on your soil. Most gardens are actually dependent on the presence of earthworms. The way the worms move around the soil helps create air pockets for the plants to breathe. They also help create gaps in the soil for roots to grow and help your plants prosper.

Soil is the foundation of your garden, and if you have healthy soil, you are one step closer to healthy plants. Earthworms love organic matter like decaying leaves, rotten logs, and manure piles. Mulching dried leaves or pine bark clippings is a great way to encourage their presence.

Tachinid Flies 

Tachinid Flies

You can attract these flies by planting many different herbs such as parsley or dill. These flies are small and harmless to your garden, but they have major potential. The larvae are able to attack harmful caterpillars and burrow their way inside, and thus kill them. These flies will help you eliminate numerous negative insects rather quickly. 

Soldier Beetles

Soldier Beetles

Image via Stu’s Images

These beetles thrive by feeding on caterpillars, aphids, and other insects. This is great if your garden is overrun with pests, but they sometimes eat beneficial bugs too. If you are wanting to attract these beetles to your garden, you could plant hydrangea, catnip, and/or goldenrod. 

Minute Pirate Bugs

Minute Pirate Bugs

These bugs will go after just about every insect that they come into contact with. They are great in helping combat harmful insects; however, they sometimes go after beneficial bugs too. These bugs are extremely attracted to daisies and plants of yellow color. 

Lady Beetles

Lady Beetles

The adult lady beetle (otherwise called Coccinellidae, ladybugs, or ladybird) feed on mealybugs, aphids, and mites, but their larvae can cause even more damage. These predatory insects are some of the most visible in the garden. Many farmers try to get rid of them, but they can provide many benefits that make their visible presence worth it. To attract lady beetles to your garden, plant angelica, fennel, coreopsis, yarrow, and /or dill.

Bees

Bees

Many people tend to be terrified of bees, but their presence is vital for the growth of a garden. Bees are obviously great pollinators, and the pollination helps fertilize your plants. Many plants require cross-pollination in order to thrive, and bees are able to provide just that. You usually don’t have to do any special work to attract bees to your garden, but bright flowers are a great start.

Lacewings

Lacewings

Most gardens seem to be overrun by those little red mites, but lacewings can help reduce their presence significantly. They feed on whiteflies, caterpillars, small aphids, thrips, mealybugs, and mites. You can purchase these insect larvae for a rather cheap price. In addition to being affordable, these insects also work well with most other beneficial pests—they do not prey on them. Plant cosmos, angelica, sweet alyssum, and coreopsis to attract lacewings to your garden. 

Wasps

Wasps

If you can get past the stinging capabilities of wasps, they are actually very beneficial for your garden. They eat many of the pesky creatures including mites, aphids, caterpillar eggs, and others. Wasps are able to help with pollination and reducing the number of harmful insects in your garden. Wasps primarily feed on insects that would be harmful and damaging to the crops within your garden. Like bees, wasps will be plenty if there are flowering plants around.

Damsel Bugs

Damsel Bugs

Image via Flickr

These bugs do not harm your garden, they only help it. They are capable of eating harmful insects that are even larger in size. Damsel bugs are most beneficial in vegetable gardens. They can help remove small caterpillars, thrips, leafhoppers, aphids, and others. They tend to stick around if you have alfalfa planted nearby.

Aphid Midge

Aphid Midge

Image via gardensdecor.com

These very small black flies are able to eat 65 aphids in one day. They have a very short lifespan, but they reproduce quickly. Pollen plants can help attract them to your garden. Aphid midge gets their name not because they are damaging like other aphids, but because they feed primarily on those damaging garden pests. 

Spiders

Spiders

The spiders that are present in gardens are typically not harmful towards you or your garden. In fact, they can help lower your risk of being bitten by other insects. Spiders eat mosquitoes, flies, wasps, and beetles. They help your plants because they decrease the number of harmful insects within your garden.

Spiders are able to create webs that eliminate harmful flying insects; this sets them apart from other beneficial insects. They create their webs between taller plants, so consider plantings corn, sunflower, and other tall plants to stimulate their activity.

Ground Beetles

Ground Beetles

Image via Bernard DUPONT

A single beetle is capable of consuming 50 caterpillars. They are most beneficial in removing harmful critters from the soil. They can help combat slugs, snails, worms, and even maggots. These bugs are so good for the garden because they still seek their prey when the others are dormant at night. Plant perennials or white clover to attract and keep them around.

Dragonflies

Dragonflies

These bugs are extremely efficient in keeping your garden pest-free. They are capable of consuming their body weight in bugs every 30 minutes, which is amazing. Because they have such a fast digestion rate, they are always looking for their next meal. Unlike other pests, dragonflies are not a creepy or crawly critter.

Many people find them to be beautiful and graceful creatures, so they enjoy their presence. Place water in or around your garden to keep them around.

Braconid Wasps

Braconid Wasps

These wasps are parasitic to little critters like caterpillars, moths, aphids, or weevils. These wasps eliminate harmful critters by injecting its eggs inside the host, where they will feed and eventually kill the host. Plant carrot, yarrow, dill, or parsley to attract them. 

Spined Soldier Bug

Spined Soldier Bug

These bugs look very similar to stink bugs, but they have one distinctive difference. This bug has so-called “shoulders” that distinguish it from those pesky stink bugs. Spined soldier bugs are a relative of the stink bug, but they do not reek the havoc of their “cousins”.

They can help eradicate beetle larvae and hairless caterpillars. Any garden could see benefits by having these insects present because they eat over 50 different kinds of harmful insects. You can plant perennials to help attract and protect these bugs.

 

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