There are both harmful and beneficial insects in every garden. Nothing in nature is superfluous or accidental. Did you know that there are thousands of insects in a yard, but only about a tenth of them are pests? Most are either harmless, useful and even necessary. Beneficial insects fall into three main categories:
- Pollinators – they are absolutely necessary. For example, without bees we could not exist! Butterflies, flies and moths are also in this category. They work to pollinate the flowers in the garden.
- Predators – they are pretty much useful, as they eat harmful insects. Predators are: ladybugs, mantises and green lace larvae.
- Parasitizers – parasites grow from other insects. They lay their eggs in others’ bodies, and their larvae feed on host insects. Such are the parasitic wasps.
Which are the most popular beneficial insects in your garden?
Although they look cute, they are vicious predators. Before to acquire their characteristic red color, they begin life as larvae, wandering around the plants and eating aphids. A ladybug larva can eat up to 40 aphids in an hour.
Their larvae feed on garden pests such as caterpillars and aphids.
The praying mantis eats many pests, including moths and flies, but know that it has no mercy on beneficial insects such as butterflies and bees. The characteristic of the mantis is that it is ruthless even to its kind!
They eat their prey literally on the go and are very helpful in preventing pests in your garden.
Soldier beetles feed on Mexican bean beetles, Colorado potato beetles, caterpillars and aphids.
They feed on many species of insects, including nematodes and caterpillars.
They use their sharp mouthparts to chase different types of insect pests in the garden.
– Braconid wasps – they lay their eggs on the backs of tomato hornworms and other caterpillars,
– Trichogramma wasps – they lay their eggs inside the eggs of over 200 different insect pests, such as caterpillars, Mexican bean beetles, Japanese beetles, grasshoppers, green stink bugs and others.
How to attract beneficial insects?
Beneficial insects need water, food and suitable living conditions. That’s why you have to provide them. Keep in mind that the variety of plants will attract many beneficial insects, but some of them appear in the garden before the pests and therefore need additional food sources – for example, pollen and nectar for bees.
In the spring, early-flowering plants are attractive to beneficial insects, especially those with small flowers such as alyssum. At a later stage, they will be strongly attracted to plants with complex colours such as yarrow, goldenrod, mint, lavender, dill, lemon balm, sage.
However, if you intend to use chemical pesticides to control pests, first consult a professional gardener, because along with the harmful ones, you can also destroy the beneficial insects in your garden.