Beneficial Garden Insects – 3 Bugs That Help Your Plants Thrive

Few people – other than entomologists, of course – will say that they love bugs. Even so, not all insects are created equal, particularly those that live in gardens. Some only pass through, while others like to stay and help – pollinating crops or eating pests.

There are a number of bugs that will make your garden a better place, so don’t be in a rush to get rid of them. These good guys are called beneficial insects, as they offer many improvements to your plants.

Want to know which bugs are beneficial to your garden? Then read on!

Three Beneficial Insects We Don’t Kill and Why

Despite what some people think, insects are not always trouble. While some pests are eating your tomatoes, a new wave of garden bugs, a.k.a “the good guys”, comes to save the day.  

The term “pest” does not apply to all bugs, so take a moment to think before you squash! You may be surprised at how many good insects live in your garden…

Hoverflies Syrphidae

These insects are often confused with wasps due to their yellow and black colouring. That colour simply provides them with some protection against predators; otherwise, they are completely harmless. 

Unlike wasps, hoverflies do not sting. In addition, they lack the long antennae, angry eyes, and bulging abdomen that you can see in wasps. 

Besides eating nectar and pollen, hoverflies’ larvae are voracious predators of garden pests, such as aphids. Therefore, they should be encouraged in organic growing areas, as they serve as both pollinators and pest controllers. 

Due to their lack of long tongues like bees have, they can only collect nectar from flowers that are open and easily accessible. To make your garden a hoverfly-friendly place, you can grow plants that meet their habitat and feeding requirements, such as Dahlias, Michaelmas Daisies, Calendulas, and Achilleas.

Ladybirds Coccinellidae

One of the most common garden insects is the ladybird, also known as the ladybird beetle. They will consume up to 50 aphids a day each, and their larvae will consume much more than their body weight. This biological pest control method is very efficient as it targets all types of aphids including blackflies, greenflies, and their larvae. 

The majority of ladybugs that you will see are red, although they also come in orange and yellow. Their beauty is one of the reasons they are so popular.

However, their snack of choice is the reason why organic gardeners are crazy about ladybirds. Use one of the shelters on sale in most garden centres and DIY shops to attract these instantly-recognisable insects. You will soon find fewer aphids eating away at your plants.

You can ensure a healthy population of lady beetles in your garden by planting dill, coreopsis, and fennel.

Lacewing Chrysopidae

A common beneficial insect in your landscaping is the green lacewing. These are famous aphid-eating predators, but are equally effective in controlling mites, caterpillars, leafhoppers, mealybugs, whiteflies, and other soft-bodied insects. Lacewing larvae are also voracious predators, killing up to 200 aphids each week. These insects are often used commercially for pest control in nurseries and horticultural crops.

Lacewings are the bugs that appear on the glass in the summer when the light is on and the curtains are open, looking like miniature green mantises with their iridescent golden eyes and intricately veined wings.

As adult lacewings prefer flowers for nectar and pollen, if you grow flowers, you will attract many of them. Dill, angelica, or coriander are also good choices to attract their attention. You can create a warm shelter in your garden to protect them from the cold in winter, too.

Check also: Why Bees Are Important and Why We Need to Protect Them

Let’s wrap up

With the help of beneficial insects, you can effectively combat pests. As part of organic gardening, it is essential to protect these insects and grow plants that provide them with nectar and pollen. It is also a great way to contribute to a more diverse ecosystem in your garden. By playing a role as natural pest controllers, these insects help to eradicate the harmful effects of chemical pesticides and insecticides in your garden.

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