Anyone who is not an outdoor lover probably cringes at the thought of inviting bugs into their yard. Some outdoor enthusiasts may not relish the thought either, but there are some benefits to having the right type of insects visiting your garden.
These insects do a variety of good things like destroying bad insects, control the spider population, attract other good bugs and help pollinate. To distinguish between a “good” insect and a “bad” insect, just ask yourself if the insect is destroying your plants, flowers or leaves or if it is just living there.
Common “Good” Bugs
1 Ladybugs: Ladybug is one of the most common “good” bugs. The favorite of ladybug is scale, aphids, leafhoppers, aphids and generally, all soft-bodied pests. Therefore, they are great for your garden destroying these harmful insects. They will eat until all pests are gone. Then, they will lay their own eggs waiting until new pests come.
2 Syrphid Flies: Syrphid flies have several names such as flower flies or hover flies. Generally, they are colored in bright colors, black, orange or yellow. Because of this, they are sometimes confused with wasps or yellow jackets, but they are harmless insects. As larvae, they feed on many species of harmful insects, especially soft-bodied pests.
3 Praying Mantis: Praying Mantis is Tyrannosaurus Rex of insects, a ferocious insect that feeds on many other bugs such as grubs, caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers, aphids, in fact on all others insects. It is so ferocious that the female eats the male after mating.
4 Predator mites: Predator mites control spider mite population both inside and outside your home.
5 Spined soldier bug: Spined soldier bug is another amazing beneficial bug, whose larva feeds on grasshopper eggs, small caterpillars, etc. Usually, this bug is called “stink bug”.
6 Hunting Wasps: Generally, the wasps’ favorite food is other insects. These hunting wasps can control your garden bug pests.
7 Spiders: All species of spiders feed on other insects or small arthropods. There are many web-making species of spiders but on the other hand there are many other species that do not make a web such as crab spiders, wolf spiders, jumping spiders, etc. They prefer to hunt their prey on plants or on soil.
8 Trichogramma Wasps: These insects are very small wasps that like to feed on the 2oo types of worm eggs. They lay their own eggs directly into the worm’ nest, and kill their eggs.
9 Green Lacewings: Green Lacewing is one of the most common insects of North America. As adults they are harmless but in the larval stage, they are fierce predators feeding on thrips, aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, leafhoppers eggs, moths, caterpillars, etc.
10 Beneficial Nematodes: These microscopic insects are extremely beneficial for any garden. They prefer to eat more than 200 species of “bad” bugs and worms such as cutworms, rootworms, fingus gnat, grubs, armyworms and many others. They get inside into their bodies killing them.
Now that you know how to identify a “good” insect and which ones are the most common, you need to know how to attract these insects to your garden.
1 Make sure your garden has a variety of vegetation. Diversifying your plants will bring different types of insect.
2 “Good” bugs are attracted by certain species of plants. For example, Paw-Paw tree is the only plant that attracts Zebra swallowtail. Research which flowers you should plant depending on what you want to attract.
3 Don’t remove ALL the weeds. Some weeds actually invite some “good” insects.
4 It is a good idea to let vegetables, herbs or greens such as chard, basil or arugula to seed whenever possible. Their growing stem and flower can attract insects.
5 Many plants have umbrella-shaped flowers such as yarrow flower that contain many tiny flowers. They are a very favorable environment for parasitoid wasp that feed on caterpillars and aphids.
6 Prefer native plants instead of exotic plants. They will attract the adequate pollinators.
7 Planting your garden vegetation in vertical layers will create an ideal environment for many beneficial insects such as lacewings and ladybugs. These insects are excellent pollinators, consuming pollen when adults. When the larval stage they prefer to eat pest insects. Using these vegetables and herbs will bring many good insects to your yard: Lavender; Goldenrod; Baby’s Breath; Dill; Carrot; Spearmint; Marigolds; Lemon Balm; Parsley; Nasturtiums; Mustard; Thyme; Sunflowers; Rose-Scented Geraniums; Sweet Alyssum; Queen Anne’s Lace