When you see bugs in your flower bed or vegetable patch, don’t be too hasty to reach for the pesticide. You may be surprised to know that many insects are beneficial for your garden. Some prevent overpopulation of harmful bugs, while others can help plants grow. Here’s a rundown of some of the most garden-friendly insects.
Bugs That Protect Your Plants
The last thing you want is to see all your hard work ruined. There are many pests in your garden that love nothing more than to eat their way through your beautiful flowers and prize vegetables. Encouraging their predators can prevent these pests from getting the upper hand.
- Ladybugs: Ladybugs stand out from the crowd. Not only are they colorful, but they also have a voracious appetite for common pests like mites, aphids and scale insects. You can invite ladybugs to your garden by planting marigolds, cilantro, chives and angelica.
- Braconid wasps: Adult female braconids inject their eggs into several insects that eat away at your plants and vegetables, such as aphids, caterpillars, beetle larvae and weevils. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the insect’s body, eventually killing their host. You can attract braconid wasps by planting dill, yarrow, onions and caraway.
Bugs That Benefit the Soil
The condition of your soil is important for your garden. Applying compost and keeping it fertile is vital for plant growth, but some insects that live in the soil can help improve it and protect your plants.
- Ants: You may be surprised to know that some types of ants can be beneficial for your garden. With their tireless tunneling, ants are constantly turning the soil. In fact, they are more effective at this than earthworms. There are some ants you want to avoid, particularly fire ants and carpenter ants.
- Beneficial nematodes: It can be difficult to attract beneficial nematodes, but you can introduce them to your garden and encourage them to reproduce by adding fertile compost. It’s worth the effort because these worms will feed on a host of pests, including caterpillars, insect larvae, maggots, weevils, borers and wireworms.
Bugs That Help Your Garden Grow
Without pollination, your plants will not be able to reproduce and produce seeds. Natural pollinators are essential for every healthy garden and it’s not difficult to attract them.
- Honey bee: Probably the most widely known pollinator, the honey bee species is unfortunately in decline. The reasons for this are uncertain, though it could be a combination of climate change, parasites and agricultural pesticides. To keep honey bees coming to your garden, plant bee balm, hosta, foxgloves and asters.
- Butterflies: Adding a butterfly area to your garden will not only add beauty and color to your landscape, but it will also attract other beneficial insects. To attract butterflies, you need to plant butterfly bush, bee balm, daylily and aster.
By encouraging beneficial insects, you’ll find efficient and friendly allies in your battle against garden pests. Your plants will thrive and you’ll have less need for chemical pesticides.
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