Do you face a pest problem in your garden? Let nature give you a hand by combating the pests with beneficial insects. Not all insects are bad pests. There are some insect species referred to as beneficial insects that may provide a long-term sustainable pest control solution by preying on the bugs that do a great deal of damage to your garden plants.
Encouraging beneficial garden insects for participation in your garden may be one of the best methods to be ever used in eliminating the detrimental effects of pests. Providing protection for these insects and planting nectar and pollen plants are basic requirements of organic gardening and is also a great initiative towards expanding an ecological diversity in your garden. The role played by these insects helps in eradicating the harmful effects of chemical pesticides and insecticides, thus promoting them the role of acting as natural pesticides in your garden. The purpose of garden insects is to serve as a comprehensive guide to safe, biological pest control with beneficial insects. With this article, we will be a friend with few garden beneficial insects and learn about how they affect our gardening practices.
- Ladybird beetle: Ladybugs have a dome-shaped back and a flat underside. They display bold and vibrant colours with markings usually red, yellow or orange with black spots. Most of the adult ladybugs and larvae feed on soft-bodied insects. The larvae consume aphids by the dozens in its growing stage while becoming an adult ladybug. Ladybugs can consume more than 5,000 aphids during their lifetime.
- Plants that attract ladybug: Dill, fennel, marigold, and butterfly weed.
- Wasps and Bees: Bees are ‘spark plugs’ for any garden due to their importance in pollinating flowers. As they gather and forage for food, they transfer grains of pollen from flower to flower, helping in the process of pollination of flowers. Predatory wasps inject their eggs inside host insects, from which the larvae grow by absorbing nourishment from the host insects.
- Plants that attract Wasp and Bees: Dill, angelica, coriander, dandelion, zinnia, parsley.
- Assassin bugs: These bugs have a voracious appetite and use trickery, disguises or just plain brute force on its prey. They use piercing, sucking mouth parts in order to feed and have long and slender antennas for better visualization of the prey. These beneficial insects feed on a number of different garden pests, including aphids, beetles, caterpillars, and ants, so they can be a powerful ally if you are trying to minimize the use of chemical insecticides in your garden. They are a very good addition in your garden but care should be taken as they may inflict a painful bite when they get threatened.
- Plants that attract Assassin bugs: Daisies, alfalfa, marigolds, dandelions, goldenrod, and fennel.
- Pirate bugs: Pirate bugs can attack almost any insect and feed on eggs of other insects, especially thrips. They are oval to triangular and flattened with whitish markings on its back.
- Plants that attract Pirate bugs: Cosmos, spearmint, daisies, alfalfa, marigolds, goldenrod, and caraway.
- Syrphid Flies: Syrphid flies often have bright markings of yellow-orange and black markings and can be mistaken for small bees. Syrphid flies are attracted to flowers to feed on nectar and pollen. The larvae feed on aphids in tight places where it becomes inaccessible for other bugs while crawling in the garden. They pollinate flowers earlier than other beneficial insects, thus producing better yields and larger fruits.
- Plants that attract Syrphid bugs: Aster, coreopsis, cosmos, daisies, dill, marigolds, mint, statice, sunflowers, and Zinnia.
- Ground Beetles: The nocturnal ground beetle is a voracious predator that hides under rocks and logs during the day and is fast-moving when disturbed. They are large, long-legged and are shiny blue-black or brown. They feed on slugs, snails, cutworms, root maggots, and other pests. They are attracted to perennial ground covers, stones or logs.
- Plants that attract Ground Beetles: Evening primrose, amaranthus, clover, asparagus, rhubarb.
- Praying Mantis: Praying mantis can handle even the largest pests in the garden. Their colouration and shape provide them with the best camouflage among the garden plants. Praying mantis are generalist predators as they are likely to feed on a beneficial insect like ladybug as they are likely to eat a caterpillar.
- Plants that attract Praying Mantis: Cosmos, yarrow, marigold, raspberry cane and herbs such as dill, caraway, and fennel.
- Damsel Bugs: Damsel bugs use thickened front legs to prey on the insects, which includes aphids, caterpillars, thrips, leafhoppers, and other soft-bodied insects. Even nymphs are predators and will feast both small insects and their eggs. Damsel bugs can blend into their environment quite well due to their dull brown colouring. They are smaller but similar to assassin bugs.
- Plants that attract Damsel Bugs: Caraway, Cosmos, marigold, fennel, spearmint
- Spiders: Spiders are very important in decimating pest outbreaks and feed on most of the insects. The spiders found in gardens do not inside the houses and are not poisonous. Permanent perennial plantings and straw mulches provide shelter and dramatically increases spider populations in vegetable gardens.
- Plants that attract Spider: Companion planting of flowers among vegetables will help to attract spider in the garden. Weaving spiders like tall plants, sunflowers, cornstalks.
- Soldier beetles: Soldier beetles are the bugs that feeds on aphids, caterpillars and other insects, including harmless and beneficial species. Their larvae are soil-dwelling, thus they feed on ground insects by the dozens.
- Plants that attracts Soldier beetles: Catnip, goldenrod, milkweed and hydrangea.
So, if you’re still reading this and haven’t run for cover yet (*scary insects*) then, by now you must have understood the need of a few buzzes and zings in your life!