Beneficial Insects for the Garden

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Whenever you see an insect in the garden, your immediate thought process leads you to eliminate the insect. This approach can sometimes deprive you of a guardian of your garden. Yes, you heard right, there are some insects that are beneficial for your garden in a way that they can get rid of the actual harmful pests.

They are natures little helping hand for your garden. It also doesn’t hurt that they do this work for free which would otherwise have to be done with some expensive and rather counter-productive chemicals.

Most of these helpful insects help by eliminating the more harmful pests in your garden and they can are attracted to your garden if you have certain plants present in your garden.

This method is completely natural and healthy for your garden that provides all of the benefits of pesticide without any of the harmful side effects.

Plus, in recent studies it has been shown that most of the insects found in the garden are starting to develop a resistance to most of the pesticides which by the way, not only destroy the harmful insects but also the beneficial ones.

This method makes sure that the harmful bugs are eliminated because let’s face it, there really isn’t much a tiny bug can do to prevent being eaten by a predator.

Important Things to Keep In Mind:

Before you start filling your garden with these beneficial bugs, there are certain things that you must keep in mind. First of all, if you are thinking of buying or importing exotic species from different parts of the world then you would require a permit as the importing of such species is illegal without a permit. Wouldn’t want you to break the law trying to protect your garden.

The second thing that you need to keep in mind and perhaps the most important thing is that make sure that the species you are getting for your garden can survive in the new environment and vegetation of your home.

Another thing that you should remember is that your garden should have quite a few of the harmful bugs in your garden or else the beneficial insects might leave your garden for a more readily available food source.

Ladybugs:

Ladybugs are quite beneficial for your garden since they prey on multiple types of insects which are aphids, whiteflies, Colorado potato beetles, mites and fleas. Click To Tweet

The great thing about ladybugs is that over their lifespan they can eliminate up to 5000 aphids so if you have a serious aphid infestation then I suggest you find a ladybug, quickly.

A comprehensive book to farming with insects that will provide you with useful strategies to reap a bountiful and pesticide-free harvest is Farming with Native Beneficial Insects: Ecological Pest Control Solutions by The Xerces Society. Be sure to check it out!

Praying Mantis:

Praying Mantis, on account of being a carnivorous insects pretty much feeds on any insect smaller than itself which include but not limited to moths, beetles and crickets. This means that they can remove bugs from your garden and leave the garden itself perfectly intact. They are attracted to tall grasses, shrubs, cosmos, marigolds and dills.

If you are looking for an alternative pest-control solution for your garden, check out Garden Safe Multi-Purpose Garden Insect Killer. Safe to use and protects the whole garden from damaging insects.

Spiders:

Having a large variety of insects that they can prey on, spiders hunt any insect that wanders into their webs. They can make their home in your garden by using very simple methods such as planting some tall plants.

The spider can make its web on some mulch to attract the predatory spiders. Something you may want to remember is that spiders have a life span of approximately 1 year.

A simple and convenient solution for flying insects that attacks your houseplants is
Springstar BioCare Gnat Stix. Easy to use sticky traps that kill adult flies for months as they emerge from the soil.

Thinking of making your garden unique and stand out? Here is a helpful guide in finding 21 Unusual Vegetables You Can Grow and Where to Get Them. Check it out!

Aphid Midges:

Aphid Midges prey only on aphids so they can make a very good addition to your garden especially if you have an aphid infestation. These insects have quite an attraction to pollen plants so if you can provide them with some, and a source of water, they will gladly make their home in your garden.

It can get rid of the aphids as a way of saying ‘thank you’. Something you might find interesting is that Aphid Midges eat up to 60 species of aphids by paralyzing them with their toxic saliva.

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Braconid Wasps:

The braconid wasp preys mostly on large insects such as caterpillars, hornworms, moths, and some aphids as well. The reason it preys on large insects is linked to its reproduction process.

It lays its eggs inside live and healthy caterpillars, which become the host. Then when the larvae hatch from the eggs, they feed inside the host until they complete their development after which they leave and the host dies.

They are attracted by plants that secrete nectar and small flowers so you might want to plant some Dill, common yarrow, parsley etc. The Braconid wasp is quite a gruesome but sure fire way to get rid of the moths and caterpillars in your garden.

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Damsel Bugs:

Damsel Bugs usually have a diet that consists of caterpillars, mites, aphids, potato beetles and cabbage worms. There are two main methods to get Damsel bugs into your garden. One is to grow the plants that they like, such as Caraway, Fennels, Alfalfa and spearmint.

Another way is to go to an alfalfa field with a sweep net to capture them and then release them in to your garden. Their population thrives if you can provide them with multiple hiding places.

If you are looking for a powerful yet whisper-quiet vacuum fan that sucks mosquitoes and other harmful insects, check out DynaTrap DT1260 Insect & Mosquito Trap.

Green Lacewings:

The green lacewings will pretty much eat any insect that has a soft body hence why the majority of their diet consists of aphids although they can also eat spider mites, insect eggs, caterpillars and thrips. The green lacewings are quite hungry when they are in development, they have been known to eat over 200 aphids in only a week when in their larvae form.

The lacewing’s larvae will resort to cannibalism if there is insufficient food. Due to this immense hunger most green lacewings tend to lay their eggs near a colony of aphids so that when their eggs hatch, the larvae have a readily available supply of food. The green lacewing can be brought to your garden by growing some dill, angelica, coriander or dandelion.

Sandistore Solar Powered Bug Zapper Buzz UV Lamp Light is a safe, hygienic and chemical free way to get rid of flies, mosquitoes and unwanted insects. Highly recommended! 

Ground Beetles:

Ground Beetles are great eliminators of insects like slugs, caterpillars, cutworms and snails. These nocturnal insects are a danger to any other insects that can be found in your garden soil. Ground beetles are in no way small although they have less of a hunger than the green lacewing.

A ground beetle larva alone can eat up to 50 caterpillars. Ground Beetles make their home plants like evening primrose, amaranthus and clovers. Due to their nocturnal nature they will only be active at night. So, don’t think that the ground beetles have left if you don’t see them in the day.

Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs is a most comprehensive guide to the common insects, mites, and other “bugs” found in the backyards and gardens. A must read for all gardeners!

Soldier Beetles:

Soldier beetles are a great deterrent against aphids, caterpillars and grasshoppers. To clarify, soldier beetles don’t actually eat the grasshoppers, rather they eat the eggs that the grasshoppers lay.

To attract the soldier beetles to your garden, try growing some goldenrod, marigold or zinnia. The great thing about soldier beetles is that they don’t have any damaging effects on the plants, whatsoever and they are also harmless to humans.

Looking for an insect control and a fertilizer all in one? Bayer Advanced 701710 2-in-1 Insect Control Plus Fertilizer Plant Spikes is your solution! Kills pests and feeds plants for up to 2 months. Ideal for indoor and outdoor potted plants.

Spined Soldier Bug:

A Spined soldier bug can be identified by its very distinctive looks. It has pointed protrusions at its “shoulders” and looks as if it is covered in a hard brown metal shell.

It is a great enemy of grubs, caterpillars and basically all soft bodied pests you might find in a garden. A female will lay up to 1000 eggs during its lifetime. A simple way to attract these little soldiers is to plant perennial plants in your garden.

Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden by Jessica Walliser is a must read for any serious gardener. It contains fascinating information on the complex relationship between plants and insects and gives a whole new dimension to gardening.

Tachinid Flies:

The tachinid flies mostly preys on moths, beetles, cutworms and squash bugs. Like the Braconid wasp, the fly lays its eggs on the host or nearby. This allows the larvae to burrow into the host for food. The tachinid flies can be attracted to the garden by planting some vegetables such as carrots, coriander and buckwheat.

To get rid of flying pests, you may check out HaferTech’s 15 Count Dual Yellow Sticky Traps. Made of eco friendly and non-toxic materials, 100% effective and cheap!

Mini Pirate Bugs:

As the name suggests, the mini pirate bug pretty much  eats insects it thinks it can eat without much trouble. Some of its prey include spider mites, caterpillars, aphids, thrips and even the eggs of other insects.

Even in its adolescent stage the mini pirate bug tends to consume a large variety of small insects. The mini pirate bug is attracted to a small variety of plants such as caraway, fennel, alfalfa, spearmint and goldenrod.

A most reliable and comprehensive guide for organic methods of gardening is The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control by Fern Marshall Bradley. A highly recommended book!

Mealybug Destroyer:

As the name says, this insect has made the mealybugs its mortal enemy. They also eat other insects such as aphids and soft scale insects but their diet mostly consists of mealybugs. Just one of these mealybug destroyers can devour up to 250 mealybug larvae. They are attracted to fennel, dill, angelica, sunflower and goldenrod.

If you are looking for strategies for both natural and chemical strategies to get rid of pests on your garden, you may check out Garden Pests And Problems: Simple Solutions to Rid Your Garden of 10 Common Pests and Problems by Anne Sandidge.

Are you a beginner and eager to start your own garden? Check out this helpful article that will answer all your questions! Seed Starting Guide: Quick Tips for Starting Seeds Successfully.

Bumblebee:

Bumblebees don’t get rid of the insects in your garden using the traditional way of hunting; they only kill those that threaten to harm them or their hive. The best thing about introducing the bumblebees into your garden is that they are nature’s best pollinators.

I would definitely advise getting some bumblebee’s to build a hive in your garden. This is especially recommended if you are planting some vegetables. The best way to attract bumblebees to your garden is by growing some flowers with pollen.

Do you want to grow beautiful, delicious fruits and vegetables without poisoning your yard with chemicals? The Naturally Bug-Free Garden by Anna Hess shows you how to bring your garden ecosystem into balance so that beneficial insects and larger animals do the work of pest control for you.

Fungus Gnat Predator:

The fungus gnat can be a very dangerous insect for your plants because it feeds on the roots. Often times, they cannot be easily removed. However, the fungus gnat predator is a good solution to this problem.

They prey on the fungus gnat when the pests are in their larvae form.  Fungus gnat predators puncture the larvae and eat what’s inside. This predator inhabits the top layer of the soil and prefers moist conditions.

Tips & Tricks:

It’s a good idea to learn the life-cycles and diets of both the beneficial insects and the pests in your garden. This will prevent you from accidentally ending up destroying the “good guys”.

Before fighting insects with insects, see if there are other natural ways to get rid of the invading pests. One good method is having plants that repel the harmful insects or some other way to get rid of them.

For example, sage can be used to repel cabbage moths and flea beetles. Therefore, it’s not necessary to introduce tachinid flies into your garden. A strong hose spray is usually enough to knock away most of the soft bodied insects.

You may already know that if a vegetable becomes overripe, it becomes a very good attractor for some garden pests. It’s okay to leave earthworms in your garden since they are quite beneficial in the long run. They increase air space in the soil and leave behind worm castings that help the soil.

One thing that you should remember is that introducing natural predators into your garden does not guarantee instant results. Sometimes it might not even change a thing.

Several factors may be involved. The insects you introduced may not suited for the climate of your home. Furthermore, there are other predators present in the vicinity that can devour the beneficial insects.

P.S, If you need an in depth advise on how to grow strawberries, check out Guide to Growing Strawberries. In this article you will learn how to plant, water, feed home-grown strawberries!

Mitch Baylis is a backyard gardener. His passion for nutrient dense, sustainably grown food has taken him across the globe in search for the best vegetable gardens on earth.

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