Did you know there are many insects that can help your garden to flourish? For instance, ladybugs eat many of the insects that can harm your plants and flowers. So before you banish an insect from your garden, make sure it's not one of the good guys! Today, I'll help you out by telling you about some of the best and worst bugs for a garden.
The Best Bugs for Your Garden
- Ladybugs: Aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, leaf-hoppers, and thrips love to chew on the leaves of the plants in your garden. Ladybugs are beneficial to have in your garden because they eat these along with other plant-eating insects. In its lifetime, a ladybug can eat around 5,000 aphids. You can attract ladybugs by planting some of their favorite plants, including scented geraniums, yarrow. or tansy.
- Praying Mantis: A praying mantis eats all types of insects, including grasshoppers, flies, crickets, and moths. If you have an abundance of bad insects like aphids or whiteflies, having a praying mantis or two in your garden means many will be eaten. Praying mantises like to dwell in gardens with yarrow, marigolds, angelica, and cosmos. They look for plants with long petals or leaves so they have shelter from the sunlight and rain. I like the idea of planting a group of cheerful perennials like black-eyed Susans so praying mantises have a place to return to each year to eat destructive bugs.
- Hoverflies: Wherever you see aphids, there is likely a hoverfly nearby. These bugs, also known as syrphid flies, lay their eggs near aphid colonies. The hatching larvae consume the aphids. In addition to eating aphids, hoverflies eat thrips, caterpillars, and scale insects. Plant some fragrant items such as sweet alyssum, oregano, garlic, chives, and bachelor buttons to entice hoverflies to leave their larvae in your garden.
- Ground Beetles: A ground beetle is a friend to have in your garden. They start eating pests as larvae and continue to eat them as they grow into adults. Some examples of the pests they eat include gypsy moth larvae, slugs, tent caterpillars, ants, cabbage worms, and cutworms. Bushy amaranth plants are enticing to these beetles, so make room for them in your garden. Also, put some flat stones in and around your garden so these beetles have a place to hide.
The Worst Bugs for Your Garden
- Aphids: This should come as no surprise, seeing as aphids are on the menu of many beneficial insects. Aphids are especially efficient in their destruction of a garden by sucking the sap out of plants, causing their leaves to drop off. Plant some chives, dill, basil, or sage to keep aphids away.
- Cutworms: These thick worms spend their nights chewing on the bottoms of stems belonging to various types of vegetables and other plants in a garden. These pests injure and consume young plants that are just starting to grow. Birds love to eat cutworms, so make the area inviting to sparrows and other birds by putting a birdbath near your garden. While birds are taking a drink, they are likely to spot a cutworm or two.
- Mexican Bean Beetles: Adult Mexican bean beetles as well as their larvae chew on the leaves of many sorts of plants. Not surprisingly, they especially like to consume soybeans, snap beans, and lima beans, among others. Putting netting over your beans is one way to keep these pests from getting to your garden, or you can plant some rosemary or marigolds to repel these pests.
- Japanese Beetles: These beetles with a metallic sheen feed on vegetables, shrubs, trees, and flowers. Watch out for them if you have any roses in your garden. They even feed on grass roots. Catnip, garlic, tansy, or white chrysanthemums repel Japanese beetles, so try including a few of these in your garden.
I hope you add some beneficial insects to your garden this spring and summer to keep those pests at bay. Thanks for reading. - Alan