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 good bugs to have in your garden.
Though these bugs look cute, they're quite the predator. Ladybugs consume garden pests like aphids, worms, leafhoppers, and mites. They have a special preference for aphids and eat about 50 each day. 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 .3ʺ -.4ʺ. 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. These black and yellow bugs are effective pollinators. They have pollen baskets on their hind legs, which 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. Make sure to have plenty of flowers in your yard if you want to attract bumblebees. They need to have easy access to nectar to eat in order to help your plants thrive.
Don’t let their delicate wings trick you, these bugs can be a strong ally in your garden. Green lacewings get their name from the lacy appearance of their wings. Adults are green and grow between 1/2ʺ-3/4ʺ. Adult lacewings feed on pollen and nectar, but their larvae consume garden pests. Adults will actually lay their eggs near aphids if they can. Green lacewing larvae are light brown or green and grow up to 1/2ʺ. They also have spots or stripes on their body. They eat aphids, leafhoppers, and mealybugs. Lacewings are attracted to sweet alyssum, dill, and coriander plants.
Not all pests attack your garden during the day, some come out at night. This is where ground beetles can help. These black beetles are nocturnal and feed at night. They have a flat and elongated body that grows between 1/16ʺ and 1ʺ in length. Even though they have wings, they don’t fly. During the day, ground beetles hide in organic matter and mulch. At night, they will come out to feed. Ground beetles will eat thrips, caterpillars, slugs, snails, and cutworms. These beetles aren’t too picky with their plant preferences. They're attracted to a variety of perennial plants and flowers.
With a name like damsel, you wouldn’t think they would be a great protector of your garden. However, damsel bugs are helpful to have hanging around your plants. 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 3/8ʺ and 1/2ʺ in length. These bugs eat a variety of garden pests including mites, aphids, thrips, caterpillars, and cabbage worms. To make your garden more welcoming to damsel bugs, add spearmint, marigolds, or fennel.
Technically spiders aren’t insects, they're arachnids. However, they are too helpful not to include them on the list. 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. 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. Spiders need spots to build webs, so you’ll want to have larger plants in your garden.
The praying mantis is known for its fierce hunting skills. These bugs 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 2ʺ-3ʺ, but some have reached 6ʺ in length. Praying mantises are able to strike prey with the spikes found on their legs. They eat a variety of garden pests, but will eat any insect they can snatch. 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.