Most people get worried when they see bugs in their garden and immediately start looking for an insecticide or some way to get rid of these pests from their garden. But before you start trying to ward them off, try to identify what the bugs are. Many bugs can be quite beneficial to your garden and even keep unwanted pests at bay. Here are a few to keep your eye out for that are harmless to your plants or even doing your garden a favor.
While these black beetles might catch you off guard, they are great hunters to have in your garden. Ground Beetles will make pest control easy as they prey on a variety of harmful insect pests including slugs, caterpillars, mites, and other beetles. They are nocturnal and as such do most of their eating at night. Larval and adult beetles alike will help keep the destructive insects at bay in your garden and will be great allies.
These spotted red beetles seem cute and friendly, but they're ferocious when it comes to eating aphids and mites in your garden. The average Ladybug will eat about 5,000 aphids or mites in its lifetime which will significantly contribute to the overall health of your garden. Not only do the parents eat aphids and mites, but they also lay their eggs in aphid colonies to ensure their larvae have plenty to eat when they hatch. Definitely a bug you'll want to have around.
While many people have arachnophobia, spiders are actually great predators to keep around your favorite plants and flowers. There are a wide variety of spider species depending on where you live and each has different hunting methods and food preferences. You'll find spiders are great at consuming mosquitoes, flies, and moths, all of which can harm your plants. Their webs can also be quite beautiful, though of course they're intended to help spiders catch their prey.
Green Lacewings easily blend in with many plants and love consuming nectar and pollen. Their larvae, often referred to as "aphid lions," feast on many harmful insects including leafhoppers, thrips, aphids, mites, whiteflies, and mealy bugs. They're able to consume large amounts of pests and significantly help your garden remain uneaten throughout the year. Planting flowers with lots of pollen will attract adult Lacewings and encourage them to lay their eggs nearby.
The Praying Mantis may look intimidating, but thankfully it's your ally, not your enemy when it comes to maintaining a healthy garden. These insects patiently hunt larger pests like caterpillars, beetles, and even more dangerous pests like hornets. While they will capture many of the harmful bugs in your garden, they may eat some of the good ones too. It's still a good ideal to let them roam your garden though.
Both the adults and larvae of Hoverflies, also called flower flies, are helpers in your garden. As larvae, they happily consume aphids, thrips, and other soft insects. Adult Hoverflies pollinate plants, just like bees and butterflies, feeding on nectar and pollen. These flies are often mistaken as bees or wasps, but they are completely harmless and don't sting.
While most people think of wasps as dangerous and irritants in the garden, parasitic wasps don't sting and are very helpful when it comes to pest control of unwanted bugs. They are harmless to humans but can completely wipe out groups of small pests like aphids as well as larger bugs like caterpillars and beetles. The way in which these insects consume other pests is quite unusual. The female parasitic wasp has a long pointer on her abdomen that she uses to pierce other insects and then deposits eggs inside of them. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae eat their way out of the host insect to escape, killing it as they do so.
Though they look similar to a common house fly, tachinid flies are one of the most beneficial insects to have in your garden. The female flies lay their eggs on other insects, so when hatch, the larvae eat and burrow inside the host which eventually kills it. Tachinid flies tend to target a variety of bugs including caterpillars and beetles. Adult flies help to pollinate the garden as they consume mostly nectar and pollen.
Of course, one of the most well-known helpful insects is the honeybee. While they don't offer pest control services, honeybees are among the best pollinators. They fly for most of the day, moving from flower to flower, transferring pollen as they go. This helps in fruit and vegetable production. These beneficial insects also produce honey as a result of their efforts, which is a bonus for gardeners who set up bee boxes.
Butterflies are definitely a popular insect that most people recognize as beneficial to their garden. Of course, their beautiful colors and unique patterns make them fun to watch as they gracefully move throughout your garden looking for flowers full of pollen an nectar. Adult butterflies are crucial in helping pollinate flowers along with fruit-producing crops. Caterpillars are sometimes seen as pests due to the amount of leaves they consume, but most caterpillars are partial to a few select plants, so having a variety of options in your garden will allow it to remain healthy and still encourage caterpillars to live there.
If aphids are a problem in your garden, then Aphid Midges will be the perfect insect to save the day. These insects have bright orange larvae and love to feed on aphids. One larva can eat as many as 65 aphids in a single day, so they can quickly reduce your aphid population. The adults consume nectar, so be sure to plant plenty of plants full of nectar to attract them to your garden.
You won't need to rescue Damsel Bugs from distress, but they may very well rescue your garden from unwanted pests. These long slender insects are great at pest control, feeding on leafhoppers, caterpillars, moth eggs, and aphids. The larvae also consume these same pests. You'll find these bugs to be great allies in your garden.
Butterflies Can't Resist These Flowering Plants
Watching butterflies around your garden is a great way to relax and unwind. Encouraging these beautiful insects to come into your yard is as simple as growing plants they're attracted to. While nearly any flowering plant will bring butterflies into your garden, the plants in this list are tried-and-true butterfly favorites.
Gorgeous, Self-Seeding Flowers You'll Only Have to Plant Once
Growing flowers from seeds is an inexpensive and great way to grow annuals (plants that only live for one year). However, just because you plant them once doesn't mean you'll have to re-plant them each. Some plants self-seed quite easily and will come back year after year with very little effort on your part. Many of these flowers also attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, to your garden.
12 Popular Plants to Absolutely Avoid Growing In Your Garden
While gardening can be fun, make sure you avoid the plants on this list unless you want a headache. Some plants can become quite invasive and others have roots that can destroy the foundation of your house or break up sidewalks. Keep these plants out of your garden and you're on your way to a more pleasant and low-maintenance gardening experience.
The Worst Gardening Mistakes Beginners Make Regularly
Gardening is a lot of fun but can also be quite overwhelming if you're just starting out. Naturally, new gardeners often learn from what they see more experienced growers doing. Sometimes this can lead to mistakes as beginners don't have the same knowledge and experience. These mistakes can be avoidable, but you have to know what to look for.
This article originally appeared on Succulents and Sunshine.