Garden Insects: The Good and Bad

Any experienced gardener knows that a healthy presence of beneficial insects is the best and most natural way to ward off the problematic pests that want to munch on your landscape. But if you can’t determine friend versus foe, they you don’t know who to welcome and who to deter.

You may be surprised at what’s included on the welcome list. While an abundance of any bug can feel like a pestilence, even some wasps and beetles can be beneficial in small numbers.

Here are a few friendly creatures to be on the lookout for, including what attracts them and what kinds of pests they keep at bay.

Spiders

That’s right, spiders are at the top of our list. A controversial creature, most of us either love them or hate them. Either way, they’re great for combating mosquitoes, houseflies, fruit flies, bedbugs, and even roaches. It’s no shocker that spiders are attracted to tall plants and hanging branches that make it easy to weave webs.

Green Lacewings

These pretty little insects will help control an overpopulation of whiteflies, aphids, and mealybugs. As with many on our list, they tend to enjoy herbs! They’re attracted to angelica, coriander, and dill.

earthwormsEarthWorms

Earthworms are not really considered insects, so maybe they shouldn’t be on this list.  But, they are very important for your garden, so we wanted to let you know about the benefits anyway.

Earthworms are some of the hardest-working critters in the garden. They process organic material (both in the soil and in your compost pile) and recycle the contents into nutrients.  They help improve soil structure, and they create tunnels in the soil for air, water, and plant roots.

You can also get the benefits of these worms without having to find any worms.  Check out worm castings or worm tea bags, if you haven’t heard of them already.  Colorado Worm Co. has some cool products to help get your garden soil in better condition for growing.

Ground Beetles

These guys are somewhat controversial, as an abundance of their larvae- known as grubworms- can harm your lawn.

The truth is, a moderate population of ground beetles in your yard can cut back on cutworms, caterpillars, and potato beetles. They are attracted to Clover, Amaranthus, and Evening Primrose.

Minute Pirate Bugs

These guys enjoy preying on caterpillars, aphids, and spider mites. Why include caterpillars in the list of foes? Just like grub worms, they can cause damage as larvae, even though they mature into beneficial insects as adults. Like many bugs on this list, a bit of population control will help keep your plants from getting munched on to the point of problematic damage.

Minute pirate bugs are attracted to such plants as alfalfa, caraway, and spearmint.

garden bugs ladybug

Ladybugs

These well-loved beetles love to munch on aphids, which are broadly considered as garden pests with no redeeming qualities. They also enjoy eating potato beetles, which is good news if you have a vegetable garden.  Ladybugs are attracted to dill and dandelions.

Praying Mantis

These “tiny aliens” are a childhood favorite, and certainly a welcome resident in your yard. They feast on larger pests such as crickets, moths, and caterpillars. They are attracted to dill, cosmos flowers, and tall grasses.

Damsel Bugs

These are a great companion for those who like to grow leafy greens in their garden, as they prey on bugs that tend to munch on garden veggies. This includes, cabbage worms, caterpillars, and aphids. Damsel bugs are also attracted to fennel, spearmint, and caraway.

Braconid Wasps

Not only do these wasps not sting, but you may not even recognize them as wasps in the first place. Their bodies are black and maroon, and their wings fold back and overlap when they land. Braconid wasps prey on aphids and caterpillars, and are attracted to parsley, lemon balm, and yarrow.

 

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