Why Should you Welcome Beneficial Insects in Your Yard?
No matter how creepy or stressful they may look, not all insects are hazardous. In fact, some of them can prove beneficial for your yard. Below are some beneficial garden insects and some cool tips on how you can attract them into your space.
What Are Beneficial Insects?
A domestic backyard with blooming plants is the home to hundreds of insects, and there is no surprise to the fact that more than ninety percent of these insects are non-hazardous. You’d find most of these insects to be beneficial to your yard or at least harmless. Beneficial insects can be broadly divided into the following categories.
- Pollinators: Without these insects, it’d be hard to have a blooming garden. These insects include butterflies, bees, moths, and flies. These insects are responsible for the pollination of seeds.
- Predators: Predators constitute insects that eradicate pests by feasting on them. These include green lacewing larvae, ladybugs, and praying mantises.
- Parasites: Parasites prey to the bad bugs by laying their eggs in them. Upon hatching, the larvae feed on the host insects. Parasitic wasps are a prime example.
Meet The Beneficial Bugs In Your Backyard
Not only everything that flaunts colors is beneficial. In addition to bees and butterflies, many other insects are also secretly benefiting your garden, and you might know. The following list of insects is purported to introduce you to such forces that work in the background and are rarely credited.
Irrespective of their gentle name and pleasant appearance, ladybugs can be relentless predators. When in the beginning stages of their life, the ladybug larvae begin moving around the plants and hunts on aphids. A ladybug larva can hunt up to 40 aphids within an hour.
Mature green lacewings feast on flower nectar and pollen, but the green lacewing larvae is a predator of soft-bodied pests such as caterpillars and aphids. The said larvae look like an amalgam of an alligator and a slug.
Praying Mantises hunt those beeping grasshoppers that trouble you. In addition to grasshoppers, these hyper predators also feast on many other insects and pests including beetles, flies, and moths that harm your lawn. However, this must be noted that praying mantises are often this fierce that they won’t hold themselves back from hunting butterflies, bees, and even each other.
Spiders are often thought of as creepy creatures, and their amazing benefits are therefore ignored. They are effective pest controllers, and as they are adapted to prey as they move, they hunt on most of the creeping insects. Also, did you know that spiders are not insects but arachnids?
Ground beetles refer to a group of predatory beetles that has amazing yard benefits to offer. Whether the larvae or matured beetles, both hunt on a wide variety of insects such as caterpillars, nematodes, slugs, weevils, and silverfish. Insects like Japanese beetles shouldn’t be allowed to wander across the yard but be careful not to crush down ground beetles in the course.
Soldier beetles are profound lovers of plants that have compound blossoms. They primarily hunt on Mexican bean beetles, caterpillars, Colorado potato beetles, and aphids.
As the name suggests, assassin bugs are deadly ones. They look like a strange combination of squash bugs and praying mantis. Using their sharp mouthparts, they hunt various insects and pests in the garden. Upon maturity, they resemble squash bugs to a greater extent, so be careful.
Robber flies have long legs, and it may not be wrong to call them bug-hunting machines. They look a little scary but do not attack humans unless they are threatened or teased. Instead, they eat up a number of garden pests and insects that otherwise harm the garden. Do not try to shoo this fly, and everything will be good!
Hoverflies are similar to yellow-jacketed wasps only with the exception that they do not sting. They feed on fruit nectar and pollen and are excellent pollinators. Their larvae prey aphids, beetles, caterpillars, and other pests by sucking the juice of the targeted insect. It is great to have them in your garden.
Parasitic wasps are too small to be identified individually. However, they are at work 24/7 and are really efficient workers.
These are mainly of two kinds.
- Brachonid wasps: These wasps lay their eggs on caterpillars and tomato hornworms. This forms white cocoons on the back of caterpillars. If you see a similar parasitized caterpillar, shove it up and let it crawl somewhere else in the garden. This way, the wasps would continue to reproduce and grow and do good work to your garden.
- Trichogramma wasps: These wasps lay their eggs within the eggs of different pests. The mature tachinid fly is more like a housefly but is a fierce parasite of gypsy moth caterpillars, Mexican bean beetles, grasshoppers, corn borers, Japanese beetles, green stinkbugs, and squash bugs.
Attracting Beneficial Insects
Want to attract beneficial insects to your garden? Provide for their basic needs including water, food, and use fewer toxic elements that might shush them away. In addition to that, growing diverse plants will invite a wide variety of insects to your garden. This way, many beneficial insects will appear in your garden before harmful pests.
Early blooming plants, like those having alyssum or other tiny blossoms, or biennales like parsley and carrots attract a wide variety of insects to your garden during spring. Later, plants having compound blossoms such as the Goldenrod, Yarrow, Queen Anne’s lace, lavender, mint, fennel, sage, and lemon balm will keep them stuck to your yard.
Must note that using chemical pesticides or sprays to eradicate insects from your garden will target good and bad bugs both, only causing you loss. Even naturally composed pesticides like Rotenone and pyrethrum kill many good bugs.