Helpful Garden Insects
Helpful Insects for your Garden
By Jeffrey Douglas
As a gardener I absolutely love spring and warmer weather. Warm weather not only means a flourish of plant growth in the garden but a corresponding increase in the presence of creepy, crawly, or winged insects outside as well. Before you go on a mission for the bug killer or search online for natural insecticides, pause for a second. Even though we may not like the thought, there are beneficial insects that should be allowed to live in our gardens.
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Type of Beneficial Insects
The “good” garden insects can be broken down into four basic categories, depending upon what they do in the garden.
- Predators consume other insect pests, mainly small species.
- Parasites prey upon a host insect to lay their eggs in or on. The hatched larvae feed on the victim, ultimately killing it.
- Pollinators transfer grains of pollen from flower to flower while looking for nectar, resulting in fruits and seeds.
- Decomposers break down garden debris to release organic material and plant essential nutrients.
How Can Bugs Be Helpful?
While it may be hard to believe, the truth is some insects play critical roles in our gardens. Some of the benefits direct, and others are indirect effects.
- They naturally reduce the number of unwanted garden pests, minimising damage to garden plants.
- They pollinate flowering plants, improving reproduction and fruit set.
- They add organic matter, which enhances the soil’s fertility and drainage.
- Predators and parasites reduce the money spent on chemical insecticides over a growing season.
- Natural pest control also saves time applying chemicals or removing pests manually.
- Fewer chemical applications mean less potentially harmful environmental effects and reduced exposure to pets and people.
Some of the Most-helpful Bugs
- Aphid midges consume more than 60 different types of aphids.
- Assassin bugs hunt caterpillars, thrips, and spider mites.
- Bees are critically important pollinators.
- Braconid wasps inject their eggs into caterpillars, moths, beetle larvae, and aphids.
- Green lacewings and their larvae feed on aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
- Ground beetles consume cutworms, slugs, snails, and different types of maggots.
- Hoverflies eat hundreds of aphids during their lifecycle, as both larvae and adults.
- Ladybugs feed on aphids, whiteflies, and scale insects, as well as their unhatched eggs.
- Minute pirate bugs assault any insect they encounter.
- Soldier beetles consume aphids and caterpillars.
- Spiders help control beetles, flies, mosquitoes, moths, and wasps.
How to Keep Beneficial Bugs Around
Once you have the beneficial bugs in your garden, it’s essential to keep them around, so they do their jobs. The following tips can help encourage them to stick around.
- Plant different types of native flowering plants in your garden. The nectar from these plants naturally attracts and feeds helpful insects.
- Create natural shelters for the beneficial insects by including shrubs, ground covers, and other variations in your landscaping design.