Not All Insects Are Bad
Also called biological agents or beneficials, there are many species of bugs that gardeners want to attract to their garden. Beneficial garden bugs generally fall into three categories: predators, parasitoids and pollinators. Together, these bugs will not only remove the unwanted pests in your garden, but also help your plants and flowers grow.
Predators are creatures that will eat the unwanted bugs in your garden. It would be great if these predators could eat the bed bugs, but this is a topic to be discussed later. Arguably the most popular garden predator is the red and black spotted ladybug or lady beetle. They feed mostly on aphids, though they will go after other soft bodied insects like chinch bugs and mites. Another highly predacious insect is the praying mantis. These striking insects feast on moths, crickets, grasshoppers and sometimes each other. Other predatory insects include centipedes, spiders, flies and some species of wasps.
Parasitoids are insects that lay eggs either in or on another host insect so that the hatching larva have a ready source of food. Parasitic wasps are an example of these types of beneficial bugs. While the phrase “parasitic wasp” sounds particularly gruesome, these wasps are tiny, and, for the most part, don’t sting. Their typical targets include various caterpillar and aphid species.
Pollinators are a very important part of your garden’s ecosystem. Bees make up a large part of this group, and honey bees are probably the best known beneficial insect. Honey bees are only one of the numerous different species of bees, and other helpful garden varieties include leaf cutter bees and blue orchard mason bees. Pollinators assist in bringing pollen from plant to plant. There are several plants, such as berries and watermelons, that require pollinators to reproduce.
While many beneficial insects will make their way to your garden on their own, there are several things you can do to make your garden more hospitable. Firstly, judicious use of pesticides is crucial. Even organic pesticides can harm beneficial bugs, so it is crucial to follow package instructions and only apply where necessary.
Second, providing food and water will ensure the bugs will stay in your garden. Shallow faced flowers, such as daisies, and members of the dill family are sources of food for ladybugs and parasitic wasps. Placing small stones in bird baths will also give the wasps a safe place to drink. If you find your garden particularly lacking in ladybugs, you can head online and purchase live, adult ladybugs for release in your garden. Finally, you might consider keeping a small colony of bees to help pollinate your berries and fruit trees. Bee keeping takes dedication and work, but can result in better pollination and sometimes extra honey!