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Beneficial Insects and Plants That Attract Them
August 04, 2014

A short, but well needed respite.

Thank you for allowing me to recharge my batteries just a little.

In my haste, I forget to mention there wouldn't be a letter last week.

Though the weather was less than ideal, anytime I can spend in northern Michigan, is a special moment for me.

I can't really explain it, only that it moves me and renews my spirit.

We stayed at our usual B&B, near the shores of Little Traverse Bay, in Bay View, Michigan.

The Gingerbread House is on the National Register.

Pictured below are some of the sunsets we enjoyed.

Yes, there was lots of shopping, checking out restaurants, and even visiting a modern day castle.

As I have mentioned before, this is the only time Karen and I have alone.

It is always nice to get back home.

Yolanda is glad to see us, and the fur kids, no worse for wear as they spend time with our oldest daughter and grand kids.

We start a new month.


Gardens continue to grow and produce.

Flower gardens are in all their glory right now.

Bird songs have slowed down, but activity in the yard and feeders is picking up.

Parents are bringing fledglings into our yard.

It's nice to see that some nests were successful.

Birds share the ground with squirrels.

Hummers are busy in the flowers.

It's also a good time to give your birdbaths and feeders a good, deep cleaning.

Especially when bacteria and other cooties thrive in warm, humid conditions.

Dragonflies and other predators are doing their job.

I will finish up the short series on beneficial insects with a twist on some plants that help attract them.

Keep chemicals away, and you can have a nice little eco-system going and growing.


Nature is filled with "good bugs", crawling and flying creatures whose diet consists mainly of the pests that ravage garden plants.

Here is a list of those good bugs and the plants that they like to visit for food and shelter.

Intersperse these plants among the "problem pest areas" in your yard.

Remember, though this ........

Chemical sprays work on both bad and good bugs.

To keep the good bugs in your yard, eliminate insecticide use in the areas where they work and live.


Beautiful little green or brown insects with large lacy wings.

Individual white eggs are found laid on the ends of stiff threads, often an inch long.

It is the larvae (which look like little alligators) that destroy most of the pests.

They are sometimes called aphid lions for their habit of dining on aphids. They also feed on mites, other small insects and insect eggs.

Certain plants, native and non native attract these helpers.

Yarrow, Prairie sunflower, Prairie mallow, and other natives.

Non natives like Dill, and other plants in the carrot family, Fennel, Cilantro, etc. , Cosmos and other flowering plants.


Recognized when they are adults by most gardeners.

However, the young larvae, black with orange markings, eat more pests than the adults, and they can't fly.

Yellowish eggs are laid in clusters usually on the undersides of leaves.

Native plants to attract Ladybugs.

Yarrow, Prairie sunflower, Butterfly weed, Penstemon, Four-wing saltbush (west).

Non natives,

Carrot family, Dandelions, Marigolds and many others.


Also known as syrphid fly, hover fly or flower fly.

Adults look like little bees that hover over and dart quickly away.

They don't sting, though they do mimic quite well.

They lay eggs (white, oval, laid singly or in groups on leaves) which hatch into green, yellow, brown, orange, or white half-inch maggots that look like caterpillars.

They raise up on their hind legs to catch and feed on aphids, mealybugs and others.

Hoverfly friendly plants.

Yarrow, Monarda, Rudbeckia, Spearmint, and more.

Non natives,

Dill and carrot family, Sedums, Zinnias, Lavender and more.

Tachinid flies:


Parasites of caterpillars (corn earworm, imported cabbage worm, cabbage looper, cutworms, armyworms), stink bug, squash bug nymphs, beetle and fly larvae, some true bugs, and beetles.

Adults are 1/3 to 1/2 inch long.

White eggs are deposited on foliage or on the body of the host.

Larvae are internal parasites, feeding within the body of the host, sucking its body fluids to the point the pest dies.

Plants that attract Tachinid flies.

Lemon balm, Tansy, Thyme, Parsley, Golden marguerite and others.

Big Eyed Bugs:

Small (1/4 inch long), grayish-beige, oval shaped bugs with large eyes that feed on many small insects (e.g., leaf hoppers, spider mites), insect eggs, and mites.

Both as nymphs and adults.

Eggs are football shaped, whitish-gray with red spots.

Plants that attract minute pirate bugs, damsel bugs and big eyed bugs.

Mint, Monarda, Goldenrod, and more.

Non native, Carrot family (Dill, Fennel, Parsley, etc.), Marigolds, Cosmos and more.

Damsel Bugs:


Feed on aphids, leafhoppers, plant bugs, and even small caterpillars as adults and nymphs.

They are usually dull brown and resemble other plant bugs that are pests.

Their heads are usually longer and narrower then most plant feeding species (the better to eat with).

Minute Pirate Bug.

Tiny (1/20 inch long) bugs that feed on almost any small insect or mite, including thrips, aphids, mites, scales, whiteflies and soft-bodied arthropods, but are particularly attracted to thrips in spring.

Parasitic Wasps.

They do not sting!

The stingers have been adapted to allow the females to lay their eggs in the bodies of insect pests.

The eggs then hatch, and the young feed on the pests from the inside, killing them.

After they have killed the pests, they leave hollow "mummies."

Braconid wasps feed on moth, beetle and fly larvae, moth eggs, various insect pupae and adults.

If you see lots of white capsules on the backs of a caterpillar, these are the braconid cocoons--leave the dying caterpillar alone.

Ichneumonid wasps control moth, butterfly, beetle and fly larvae and pupae.

Trichogramma wasps lay their eggs in the eggs of moths (hungry caterpillars-to-be), killing them and turning them black.

Other beneficial insects like Dragonflies are search and destroy predators.

Both as adults and underwater larvae.

Specialists like Preying mantis are ambush predators and simply go where the food is.

Predatory and Beneficial Insects go where the food is.

Certain flowers and plants, native and non native, attract certain species of insects (bad bugs).

Predators simply follow they prey.

As with all forms of life, insects need food, water, and to reproduce.

Remove these elements and your yard will have no bugs at all.

No bees or butterflies to pollinate, as pesticides are yet to be made with a selective kill switch.

You wont have birds or other forms of life.

Face it................

Your yard will be one barren, almost sterile place.

No movement, no sound.......

No life.

I ask you this.......

What good is a yard without bugs?

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the day.

God bless.

“There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Albert Einstein

C.S. Lewis (yes the C.S. Lewis of Narnia fame) wrote this:

"The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation....
Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this....
It was the central event in the history of the Earth—
The very thing that the whole story has been about"

By a miracle that passes human comprehension, the Creator entered his creation, the Eternal entered time.

God became human, in order to die and rise again for the salvation of all people.

The Greatest miracle......

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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