Not all bugs are bad to have in your yard – in fact, it can actually be quite beneficial to attract a few varieties of insects that help keep your garden, flowerbeds and landscape healthy and thriving.
When gardeners start talking insects, it’s usually not a positive conversation. Quite often, it’s about slugs attacking their hostas, cabbage worms riddling their vegetable plants in the garden, or Japanese beetles devouring their roses.
But although all of those scenarios involve the bad side of insects and pests – there are actually many insects that can be quite helpful to the home gardener. Not only can these beneficial insects help to control the “bad” pests, but many even help to pollinate crops and flowers as well, providing even more beauty and interest to your landscape.
One thing is for sure, a healthy balance of insects in your garden can keep the need for pesticides at bay. Creating an inviting environment for helpful insects can help keep invasions from aphids, hornworms and other pests in check. And more importantly – 100 percent naturally!
The simple truth is, the “good” insects need a fair amount of the “bad” insects as a food source. And unfortunately, when you begin to eliminate one or more entirely by spraying, it simply paves the way for an invasion of other insects that now have no predators.
How To Attract Beneficial Insects To Your Landscape
Attracting helpful insects to your landscape isn’t difficult. In fact, it’s quite easy. What it really boils down to is providing the food and shelter these insects need for survival.
In most cases, that means planting varieties of plants and flowers that can either be a food source, or a host to the insects they like to dine on.
In addition, if you make sure they have a reliable water source and create an environment where they can live – they will start visiting your landscape. And quite often, begin calling it home!
With that in mind, here is a look at 5 of the best of the best of beneficial insects – and what it takes to attract them to your yard. Not only can they help keep your pest population under control, but many can aid in helping to keep your plants blooming and booming too.
5 Beneficial Insects To Attract To Your Landscape
The Praying Mantis
With its awkwardly lanky, stick-like body and triangular head, the praying mantis can look quite menacing. But this harmless-to-humans insect is actually a gardener’s best friend. The praying mantis is one high-powered insect eating machine!
Praying mantis are incredibly adept at disguising their long body, and then pouncing on their prey in an instant. They dine on everything from beetles, mosquitoes and slugs – to crickets, spiders and grasshoppers.
Unfortunately, the praying mantis will not discriminate in the garden. They are pure predators, and will eat all kinds of bugs – both good and bad. But it’s important to note, they are great for keeping all insect populations under control. That is true of even there own species, as they will even attack other praying mantis!
To attract praying mantis, plant plenty of low growing, shady ground cover. Hostas work well, as do sedum and ornamental grasses. Mantis also love both dill and marigolds and are attracted to their unique scents.
Braconid Wasps – How To Attract Beneficial Insects
Braconid wasps are one of the most under-appreciated heroes of the garden. Although they have somewhat of a bad reputation from the danger of their sting, for the most part, these flying beauties really don’t want to mess with humans
One thing is for sure, the benefits they bring to your yard are impressive. Wasps are actually an incredible dual-ally of the gardener.
For starters, they are a big help in the fight against caterpillars and hornworms. Wasps lay their eggs on the backs of these garden pests. The resulting larvae then slowly feed on them, killing them in the process.
But above and beyond their pest control, wasps also help to increase pollination levels of many self-pollinating crops. Two of their favorites are tomato and pepper plants. In fact, a surprising fact to many gardeners are that wasps are the leading pollinator of tomatoes!
Wasps love to drink nectar from flowers. As they work the flowers of self-pollinating plants, they scatter pollen with their fast flapping wings. Some call it flipping, others call it buzzing. But in the end, all of that movement creates more chances for crops to become pollinated and produce.
Lady Bugs – How To Attract Beneficial Insects
Not to be confused with the Asian beetle, lady bugs are one of the most beneficial insects of all to attract to your garden and flowerbeds.
Although they look quite methodical as they mosey along, ladybugs have a voracious appetite for aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, potato beetles, mites, fleas and more.
If you want to attract more ladybugs to your garden, plant a little dill or yarrow along the edges. Both of these plants are highly attractive to the spotted creatures, and will have them visiting often. See: How To Attract Ladybugs To Your Garden – And Control Pests Naturally!
Green Lacewings – How To Attract Beneficial Insects
Green lacewings are another great addition to have visiting your flowerbed and garden areas. Often confused by many to be an enemy of the garden, they actually help keep a large number of pests in check.
Green lacewings love to dine on aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies and leafhoppers – all of which can cause serious garden damage. With their bright green, neon-like color and their compound eyes, they are easy to spot.
They are especially attracted to herbs, and will visit dill, coriander and coreopsis plants frequently. They also love cosmos, sunflowers and even dandelions.
Ground Beetles – How To Attract Beneficial Insects
Ground beetles are incredible for controlling all kinds of garden enemies. Not to be confused with many other species of beetles that attack plants (Japanese beetle, cucumber beetle, etc.), ground beetles are quite helpful in gardens and flowerbeds.
They love to eat cutworms, snails, caterpillars, and one of the ultimate garden and flowerbed pests – slugs!
To attract ground beetles, it is important to provide them plenty of cool, moist, protective cover. They love to take up residence in thick ground mulch, or underneath plants with heavy foliage. Most ground beetles are glossy black with a groove on their backs. If you see them patrolling the ground – let them be – they are certainly a welcome sight!
Here is to attracting more beneficial insects to your yard this year, and keeping the balance of nature on your side!
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