Beneficial Garden Insects


Beneficial Garden Insects

There are many beneficial garden insects that you won't find for sale in your favorite garden center, even though they are some of the most effective. Big-eyed bugs, for example, can eat up to 12 small caterpillars or leafhoppers per day; damsel bug nymphs eat aphids, thrips and more; minute pirate bug nymphs will eat many insects including thrips, spider mites, small caterpillars, leafhopper nymphs, corn earworms and the eggs of many insects.

To create an enticing habitat for beneficial's:

  1. Grow plants that will provide nectar and pollen. This attracts beneficial insects and gives them something to eat while waiting for the pest insects to arrive or hatch. Some of the best plants include herbs such as dill, caraway, fennel, spearmint and lemon balm. Tansey the herb, not tansy ragwort the weed, is especially attractive to lady beetles. Also try white cosmos, clover (good for your lawn), buckwheat and many wildflowers. Stagger your plants to make sure one of these plants is always in bloom.
  2. Provide a source of water. This can be a shallow dish, but ensure you change the water on a regular basis to prevent mosquitoes from using it to breed.
  3. Provide shelter from wind and rain. A hedge or tall row of sunflowers works well.
  4. Don't use pesticides! Many pesticides kill the beneficial garden insects as well as the pests. If you must use a pesticide, make sure it will not harm the beneficial insects and keep it's use localized to the problem site.

Beneficial Insects

Green or Brown Lacewing - larvae eat aphids

Green or Brown Lacewing - the adult lacewing lives on pollen and nectar. The larvae are sometimes referred to as "aphid lions" as they consume large numbers of aphids.


Lady Beetle - eats aphids, insect eggs & mealybugs

Lady Beetles - most people will recognize the spotted domed shape of the lady beetle. Both the larvae and adult lady beetles are voracious predators that can eat hundreds of aphids in their lifetime. They also eat insect eggs, mealy bugs, and other soft-bodied insects and mites.


Big eyed bug - eats chinch bugs and more

Big-eyed bugs - appropriately named insects are about one-eighth inch long, black and white, with silvery wings and large, bulging eyes. Big-eyed bugs are important predators of chinch bugs. They also eat small caterpillars, mites, insect eggs, and other insects that they can catch.


Stink bug - eats leaf beetle & caterpillars

Predaceous stink bugs - eat over 100 types of insects, especially leaf beetle larvae and caterpillars. The predaceous stink bug can be distinguished from its plant-feeding relatives by the spike on each side of its shoulders, just behind the head.


Yellow Jaket wasp - eats caterpillars and more

Predatory Wasps - Yellow jackets, bald-faced hornets, and paper wasps are important predators of caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects.



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