Attracting Beneficial Insects
Nature's Work Force



Beneficial Insects?

Yes, there are such creatures.

According to scientists, 93% of all insect species are good guys.

Okay you ask.............

Why are there so many leaf chomping, plant sucking, give me a headache insects in my garden if 93% are good bugs.

93% of the species, not 93% of all insects.

Aphids

Does this sound familiar to you?

First a few aphids appear.

Then more and more of them pop up over night.

How can this happen?

Female aphids over winter pregnant.

That's correct, they give birth to the first batch and that gives them a leg up on the competition, so to speak.

Because they have to feed so many other insects and birds, they must reproduce at a fast pace.

Beneficial insects are on the menu for birds, bats and other creatures as well.

No matter, they take some of the joy out of your garden.

In the days before environmentally friendly gardening became the norm, this would have meant getting out the chemicals and spraying the heck out of everything in the garden.

I recall my dad with the dust in a burlap bag and the spray can dousing anything and everything, and teaching me to do the same.

The bad guys usually died off but sadly, so did all the the beneficial insects.

We have grown wiser in the last couple of decades and have begun to recognize that the beneficial insects, predator insects are allies in the effort to keep detrimental bugs in check.

A garden full of predator insects means you have an unbeatable crew of garden clean-up masters who, for little more than food and shelter, are on the job 24/7 during the growing season.

All you have to do is learn what they need and adapt your gardening methods to help them thrive.

Who are the Good Guys:

Lady Beetles

Just what are beneficial predator insects?

They are insects and their larvae who find that bugs like aphids, thrips, mealy bugs, spider mites, and scale,

Soil organisms including slugs make tasty snacks or are a good place to lay eggs.

Often their activity is on such a small scale that you don’t know they are out there working.

The lack of aphids or thrips in the garden doesn't mean they aren't there.

It may mean that the predator insects got to them before they did major damage to your plants.

Lady beetles or bugs are small red-orange insects with black markings. The larvae are black with yellow markings and are found crawling on plants. The adults will fly short distances between plants. Both the adult and larvae stage will eat aphids, scale insects, spider mites and mealy bugs.

Lacewings are brown or green with lacey clear wings. They are found flying around plants. They and their larvae, known as aphid lions, prey on scale insects, mealy bugs, whiteflies, caterpillars, leafhoppers and thrips.

Solider, Tiger, Ground Beetles, inhabit leaves, flowers and seeds or spend their time on the ground foraging for soil organisms. Some fly while others run very quickly over the plants and ground.

They generally eat slugs, snails, cutworms, root maggots and Colorado Potato beetles.

True bugs from the Hemiptera family including Assassin, Ambush Big-eyed, Minute pirate, Damsel and predaceous Stink bug are often found at various levels of vegetation and feed on a general list of other insects they encounter.


Pirate Bug

Pirate bugs (pictured right) in particular go after thrips, mites, scale, aphids, and whiteflies.

Predaceous hoverflies and parasitoid tachinid flies are both members of the Diptera family.

The larvae look like small maggots that prey on aphids and scale insects. The adults pollinate, but also feed on insects they find feeding on flowers.

Hoverflies are active early in the season before many other predators are out.

Tachinid flies can resemble house and blow flies and are found near flowers looking for hosts for their eggs. They lay eggs on worms, beetles, sawflies and other bugs. The larvae enter the host to feed before pupating outside the host, killing it in the process.

Several species of wasps are important beneficial insects and the group most likely to run into a conflict with humans. Thread-waist wasps, Yellow Jackets and Hornets are all meat eaters that will eat a variety of insects they find in the garden.

Adults will bring masticated insects back the young in their hives. Being opportunists, they often don’t see much difference between the bugs and the burgers or fish on the picnic table.

Parasitic wasps are tiny in comparison with larger wasps. They are found around flowers where they seek out cutworms, corn earworm, horn worms, gypsy moths, leafrollers, cockroach eggs and beetles to lay their eggs in.

dragonfly

Dragonflies and Damselflies, in adult and larval stages are veracious feeders, both are beneficial insects.

Larvae feast on mosquito larvae while adults feed on anything from grasshoppers, wasps, and any other insects they can catch.

Praying Mantis and other predatory insects to enjoy in your gardens.

You will even discover that

Fireflies fall into the category of insects that are beneficial.

Beneficial Insects, Return to the Top of This Page

Attract Pollinators to Your Gardens

Protecting Pollinators

Create an Insectary

Create Your Own Wildlife Habitats

Praying Mantis

Lady Beetles


Insects play an important roll in God's Master Plan.

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