One of the biggest enemies of the gardener is bugs. They’re annoying when you’re working in the garden, and some of them can damage your flowers or vegetables beyond repair. We’ve discussed how to get some insect relief in prior posts, but not all insects are bad for you or your garden. Some of them help your plants, while others will help you out with pest control by attacking and killing other insects. Here are five insects that you’ll want to have around, and encourage to be part of your lawn and garden.
Sure, they’re creepy, and might make your skin crawl even thinking of them. Also, they’re not technically insects, but we’ll overlook that for now. Spiders are incredibly efficient at trapping prey, creating great webs that will snag up all sorts of bugs or, in the case of wolf or jumping spiders, actively pursue prey. However, they’re a bit indiscriminate, and will trap and eat other beneficial insects as well as the ones you don’t want around. Don’t worry about them creeping their ways indoors – almost all garden spiders will not move inside.
Ladybird Beetles/Lady Bugs
These little fellas are common and cute, and also quite useful. They feed on aphids and other small, soft-bodied insects that can damage trees, flowers, and vegetables. Aside from killing off these bugs that cause damage, they also feed on pollen and nectar, and encourage the reproduction of plants.
There are a number of species of parasitic wasps, but they all have the same modus operandi. These nasty little buggers will inject their eggs into their victims, and the hatched larva will then eat the victim from the inside out, usually caterpillars or wood-boring beetles. An added plus is that the adults will not sting or bite people, and instead eat pollen and nectar, helping plants to spread.
Again, there are a variety of species – displayed above is the assassin bug, which will actively hunt other species, including potato beetles. They move quickly and will attack other insects quite a bit larger, generally by injecting venom that liquifies the prey from the inside out.
They look like common house flies, but tachinid flies will go after all sorts of other insects. Gypsy moths, Japanese beetles, sowbugs, and cutworms are all on the menu for these guys – their pretty indiscriminate. They can be attracted through easily available pollen and nectar, and will go after the bugs that try to destroy the sources.
So, if you see any of these animals around in your garden, don’t go grabbing the pesticide. Instead, let them do what they can to help rid your lawn and garden of pests. If pesticides are necessary, make sure to use selective ones that will not harm beneficial insects. If you want to attract these insects, provide them with food sources rich in pollen and nectar such as lavender, yarrow, or catnip.