Protecting your plants from harmful pests is an important part of gardening. Thankfully, a few bugs don’t mind giving you a helping hand. Beneficial insects are a great addition to your garden because they help with pest control and pollination. We’ve made a list of seven good bugs to have in your garden.
Though these bugs look cute, they’re quite the predator.
Why Are Ladybugs Beneficial?
Ladybugs consume garden pests like aphids, worms, leafhoppers, and mites. They have a special preference for aphids and eat about 50 each day.
What Do Ladybugs Look Like?
While ladybugs are known for their red and black spotted body, some look a little different. Ladybugs can be yellow with black spots, and some don’t have any spots at all. Spotless ladybugs range in color from red, orange, and black. These dome-shaped bugs have short legs and grow between 3/10ʺ -2/5ʺ.
Tip to Attract Ladybugs: If you would like to invite these helpful bugs into your yard, try adding dill, fennel, goldenrod, or yarrow.
Despite their bad reputation for stinging, bumblebees are a great addition to your garden.
Why Are Bumblebees Beneficial?
Bumblebees are effective pollinators. They have pollen baskets on their hind legs that allow them to collect pollen. It will also attach to the hair found on their abdomen. As they travel from plant to plant, bumblebees deposit pollen. This helps to produce more flowers, fruit, and vegetables.
What Do Bumblebees Look Like?
Bumblebees are black and yellow. Their size varies by species, but they are typically large, growing to about 1". These bugs are covered in hair, giving them a fuzzy appearance.
Tip to Attract Bumblebees: Make sure to have plenty of flowers in your yard if you want to attract bumblebees. They need easy access to nectar to help your plants thrive.
3. Green Lacewings
Don’t let their delicate wings trick you, these bugs can be a strong ally in your garden.
Why Are Green Lacewings Beneficial?
Adult lacewings feed on pollen and nectar, but their larvae consume garden pests. Adults will actually lay their eggs near aphids if they can. Larvae eat aphids, leafhoppers, and mealybugs.
What Do Green Lacewings Look Like?
Green lacewings get their name from the lacy appearance of their wings. Adults are green and grow between 1/2"-3/4". Their larvae are light brown or green and grow up to 1/2". They also have spots or stripes on their body.
Tip to Attract Green Lacewings: Lacewings are attracted to sweet alyssum, dill, and coriander plants.
4. Ground Beetles
Not all pests attack your garden during the day; some come out at night. This is where ground beetles can help.
Why Are Ground Beetles Beneficial?
These nocturnal bugs feed on harmful plant pests. During the day, ground beetles hide in organic matter and mulch. At night, they will come out to feed. Ground beetles eat thrips, caterpillars, slugs, snails, and cutworms.
What Do Ground Beetles Look Like?
Ground beetles are black and have a flat, elongated body. They grow between 1/16" and 1" in length. Even though they have wings, they don’t fly.
Tip to Attract Ground Beetles: These beetles aren’t too picky with their plant preferences. They're attracted to a variety of perennial plants and flowers.
5. Damsel Bugs
With a name like damsel, you wouldn’t think these bugs would be a great protector of your garden. However, damsel bugs are beneficial to have hanging around your plants.
Why Are Damsel Bugs Beneficial?
These bugs are helpful because they eat a variety of garden pests. They are known to feed on mites, aphids, thrips, caterpillars, and cabbage worms.
What Do Damsel Bugs Look Like?
Damsel bugs are tan or gray and have large eyes and long legs. Their body shape is similar to a stink bug, but they're narrower. Their legs resemble those of a praying mantis. They grow between 3/8" and 1/2" in length.
Tip to Attract Damsel Bugs: To make your garden more welcoming to damsel bugs, add spearmint, marigolds, or fennel.
Technically spiders aren’t insects, they're arachnids. However, they’re too helpful to leave off the list.
Why Are Spiders Beneficial?
Though these arachnids are frightening to some, their food preferences can help keep your plants safe. Spiders feed on many pests including aphids, grasshoppers, fruit flies, and caterpillars.
What Do Spiders Look Like?
There are many species of spiders, and they all vary in size and color. Some spiders are hunters and actively search for prey. Wolf and jumping spiders are especially known for their helping hands.
Tip to Attract Spiders: Spiders need spots to build webs, so you’ll want to have larger plants in your garden.
7. Praying Mantises
The praying mantis is known for its fierce hunting skills, which can benefit your garden.
Why Are Praying Mantises Beneficial?
Praying mantises eat a variety of garden pests, but they will eat any insect they can snatch. These helpful bugs are able to strike prey with the spikes found on their legs.
What Do Praying Mantises Look Like?
Praying mantises get their name from the praying position of their front legs. They're typically green or tan and have a triangle-shaped head. Their large compound eyes help them when hunting as well as their ability to turn their head 180 degrees. On average, they grow between 2"-3", but some have reached 6" in length.
Tip to Attract Praying Mantises: These bugs prefer tall grass, but dill and marigolds can also attract them.
Though we have a tendency to avoid bugs, they can be beneficial to have around. If you notice any of these bugs in your garden, you may want to let them stay. Their taste in food can help keep your garden safe from plant-eating pests. If you’re dealing with a pest problem, we want to help! Check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective™ Pest Control products.