To the novice gardener, attracting bugs to your garden seems like anything but a worthwhile goal. However, there are certain types of beneficial insects that are essential to your garden’s health and the health of your local ecosystem.
Beneficial insects help to support ecological balance and can discourage certain pests that pose a threat to your favorite plants. Insects such as bees, ladybugs, spiders, and more all have something to offer your garden. To learn more about why that is the case, read on through this guide to beneficial insects in your garden.
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Understanding Beneficial Insects
Before we get into details, let’s cover some of the main ways insects can be beneficial in the garden. Overall, beneficial insects support the health and vitality of your garden plants in more ways than one.
First, many beneficial insects are crucial pollinator species that not only help your plants reproduce but also enhance the well-being of your local environment. The impact and importance of these pollinators cannot be understated, as both the natural world and human agriculture depend heavily on them.
The second vital way in which beneficial insects help a garden is through pest control. While there are plenty of insects that will harm your plants, some of the beneficial insects we’ll soon mention are natural predators of those harmful pests.
Types of Beneficial Insects
Now that you understand the basics behind why some insects are beneficial for gardens while others are not, it is time for us to introduce you to some of the beneficial insects that could become your most welcome garden guests. Some of the insects below are perfect for conducting pollination, while others will help you eliminate and prevent infestations of insect pests.
Among the most common garden pests that gardeners struggle to control are aphids. Aphids suck the sap out of many types of plants, which eventually kills those plants. Fortunately, ladybugs love to eat aphids, so having them in your garden is likely to eliminate any aphid problems.
Lady bugs are attracted to several types of herbs, including dill and cilantro. They also like flowers like yarrow and geraniums. Planting any of those herbs or flowers in your garden is a great way to attract aphid-eating ladybugs to your property.
Bees are some of the most effective and well-known pollinator species in existence, so it is no surprise that it is a good idea to attract bees to your garden. These busy insects love many different types of flowers, including asters, coneflowers, bee balm, sunflowers, lavender, and many others. Plant these to attract bees, and you’ll also probably see plenty of butterflies!
If you have any fruiting plants in your garden, the presence of bees alone will likely be enough to facilitate their pollination and fruit production. In addition, bees will also work to pollinate other plants in your neighborhood and beyond, leading to a healthier local ecosystem for you and your neighbors.
When it comes to pest control, praying mantises are some of the best beneficial insects you can attract to your garden. Praying mantises eat many types of harmful insects, including aphids, mosquitos, and various types of beetles.
To attract praying mantises to your garden, you’ll need to provide some cover for them, as well as some plants they love. Try planting a few low-growing plants that will give a praying mantis a safe and secluded area where it can rest and prepare to hunt insect pests. Plants like marigolds and various herbs can also be very attractive to praying mantises.
Although there are plenty of people who have a fear of spiders, there is no reason to exclude them from your garden. It turns out that spiders are experts at catching and consuming garden pests like wasps, aphids, mosquitoes, and much more before they become a nuisance.
Spiders are usually on the move during the spring months, which is the best time to attract them to your garden. Try adding loose piles of mulch or other plant debris during the spring. These piles will serve as the ideal location where a spider can feel comfortable and begin building a web that will catch insect pests.
Along with aphids, mealybugs, mites, thrips, and scale insects are some of the most common garden pests. The good news is that green lacewings love to eat all of those disruptive garden pests.
As is true of other beneficial insects in this article, green lacewings are attracted to various types of herbs, including dill and cilantro. They also love flowering plants like cosmos and sunflowers. Ultimately, having a garden full of several types of plants that lacewings love is the best way to invite the beneficial insects.
Creating a Haven for Beneficial Insects
Biodiversity and native plants are essential to attracting beneficial insects to your garden. In other words, planting a wide range of native flowering plants and herbs is the best way to convince beneficial insects to make your garden their home. This is good news, because all you have to do is add some beautiful flowers to some hanging baskets, planters, or a flower bed!
However, attractive plants are not the only feature that beneficial insects need. You should also ensure that your garden provides the food, water, and shelter that these insects require. Only when those features are in place will beneficial insects thrive among your garden plants. Think about attracting hummingbirds with feeders, for an example. Sure they’re out there without the feeder in place, but that food is what brings them right to your house… do the same with plants in your yard!
Purchasing Insects Online Vs. Attracting them to Your Garden Naturally
Some gardeners feel tempted to purchase their beneficial insects online as a quick way to introduce them to their gardens. This can be a good solution if you are looking to deal with a bad pest problem. For long term benefits, however, this is not always the best approach.
Many insects available for purchase online have been poached from nature. This is problematic because they are removed from other ecosystems where they belong. It also means they may not be suited to your climate. Sometimes, some beneficial insect packages may even include insects that are invasive in your area. This will certainly end up doing more harm than good! Lastly, insects you purchase online may disperse themselves rather than remain in your garden.
For those reasons, it is usually best to attract beneficial insects to your garden naturally. Planting attractive plants, trees, and providing food, water, and shelter is the best way to ensure beneficial insects remain in your garden for years to come.
The Impact of Beneficial Insects on Garden Health
The presence of beneficial insects helps the plants in your garden remain healthy and pest-free. This effect comes with the additional benefit of reducing the amount of potentially harmful chemical pesticides you need to apply. Beneficial insects also play a key role in pollination, which will make any of your fruiting plants more productive so that you can enjoy a larger harvest each year.
Overall, inviting and supporting beneficial insects makes your garden healthier and more vibrant over the long term. By encouraging these insects, you’ll also be doing your part to ensure that your surrounding ecosystem remains healthy and balanced as well.
I hope this post as made it clear that there are many beneficial insects that you should actively invite into your garden. These insects help with pollination, pest control, and the overall health of the environment. If you want to do your part to promote ecological balance, one of the best approaches you can take is to begin attracting beneficial insects to your garden today! Next, check out our posts on DIY Wasp Traps, how to use cover crops in your home garden, or perhaps drought tolerant perennials!