As gardeners, we’re often so focused on getting rid of the bad bugs, that we forget about keeping a good population of good bugs. Below is a list of good bugs for the garden.
The ladybug is especially beneficial to the health of your garden. They may look cute and gentle, but they are hunters. Their favorite meal is aphid, a nasty bug that drinks plant sap. Aphids are particularly damaging to crops, leaving them drooping and yellow. But ladybugs are a great defense against aphid’s attack on your garden. A single ladybug can eat up to 5,000 aphids her lifetime (a year to two years).
These bugs are beneficial for the garden for the same reason ladybugs are—to control the aphids. But lacewings are not cute, and their larvae (scary-looking caterpillars) are the predators. Also known as “aphid loins,” the larvae can eat up to 200 aphids (or other bugs) a week. After three weeks, however, they will build a cocoon and enter adulthood. The adults are about ½ inch long, with large, lace-like wings. The adults are docile compared to their offspring. They only eat pollen, nectar, and honeydew.
Though slightly disturbing, a beneficial nematodes’ habits would make any gardener happy. They are tiny worm-like creatures (you can barely see them with the naked eye). They attack many different types of insects, but does not harm humans or animals. They’ll enter the insects while they’re still alive—their victim will die within a few days. Even after the bug dies, they continue to eat and multiply until the supply runs out—then they search for a new host. Why do we like them? They’ll hunt down over 200 different species, including ants, flies, and termites.
Honey Bees are responsible for 80% of pollination in the U.S. So without the bees, you won’t have a garden. In fact, without the honeybee, the way we eat and live life would be completely different. They pollinate 60 different crops, including nuts, fruit, grains, and vegetables.
These sophisticated insects are probably the most fascinating. They have a unique appearance and they have amazing hunting skills. Gardeners love these creatures because they are the only insect predator that can catch moths. (Moths larvae damages plants.) They also hunt several other insects such as aphids, flies, and cockroaches. They’ll even take on small rodents.
Not all garden insects are pests. In fact, many of the insects in your garden are benefiting it. So the next time you’re treating your garden for pests, remember that the best pest control is maintaining a balanced population of the good pests.
McKenzie Hillam is a freelance writer interested in many different topics, including gardening. She currently works for companies like Preventive Pest Control writing articles.