I was thinking of the phrase, “build it and they will come…” It has such a connection to garden building, and ways that you can create, from the start, a healthy garden habitat. If you already have an established garden, there are plenty of ways to attract beneficial insects to come hang out and live in your garden.
As I learned from perusing Jessica Walliser’s book: Good Bug Bad Bug: Who’s Who, What They Do, and How to Manage Them Organically, we’ve got to incentivise beneficials, and give them what they want in order to keep them at home and living in our gardens. If you want to get more beneficial insects in the garden – providing shelter, food and a place to reproduce – is key.
If you want to attract more hummingbirds to your garden, click here.
You may want to look at the overall diversity of your planting, or add more herbal flowering plants…
Take a look below at what the 14 popular beneficial insects want. Also, take a look at the various garden pests each one controls. Attracting beneficial garden bugs and welcoming them into your garden is a smart approach that will serve you well over the years.
14 Beneficial Insects Your Garden Would LOVE TO HAVE!
But, here’s what the ‘Beneficials’ want:
1. Aphidus Wasp
Bring in pollen and nectar plants (and very important), look to have a continuous availability of flowering throughout the growing season. This ‘bene’ loves: Alyssum, buckwheat, lupine, oregano, sage sunflower, thyme and yarrow. It Controls: Aphids.
2. Assasin Bug
Forgo monoculture! Keep the assasin bug happy with a diverse mix of vegetation. This ‘bene’ loves: trees, shrubs, flowering plants and weeds. It Controls: Aphids, cucumber beetles, cabbage worms, Colorado potato beetle, cutworms, earwigs, tobacco budworms, tomato hornworms, Mexican bean beetle, Japanese beetle, lace bugs, earwigs, four lined plant bugs, and many caterpillars.
3. Big Eyed Bug
Again forgo monoculture! This ‘bene’ loves – a diverse habitat where its’ prey can be found. it prefers low growing shrubby plants to taller plants. Though small, this bug has a strong presence in most gardens. It Controls: Adult aphids, cabbage loopers, caterpillars, chinch bugs, flea beetles, Mexican bean beetles, spider mites, whiteflies, thrips, Also, eggs of aphids, mites and many other pests.
4. Damsel Bug
Commonly found in home gardens, the damsel bug stays close to the soil surface. This ‘bene’ loves: Dianthus, lavender, thyme, phlox, lilyturf, and creeping phlox. It Controls: Aphids, asparagus beetles, small caterpillars, Colorado potato beetle eggs and larvae, four lined plant bugs, sawfly larvae, spider mites, whiteflies and many insect eggs.
5. Ground Beetle
They hide under rocks, logs and stepping stones during the day and are out at night looking to help rid your garden of the bad guys. It Controls: Caterpillars, snails, gypsy moth larvae, cutworm slugs, squash vine borers etc. This ‘bene’ loves – give them a hiding space: stepping stones, rocks, logs…
6. Hoover or Syrphid Fly
Keep your hoover fly happy and a permanent dweller with a continuous availability of nectar and flowering plants for the entire gardening season! This ‘bene’ loves – a diversity of flowers: coreopsis, daisies, fennel, dill, feverfew, lavender, aster, alyssum, mint, statice, sunflowers, wild mustard, zinnia. It Controls: Caterpillars, cabbage worms, mealybugs, and aphids. (see an example of syrphid fly at the top of this page)
Adult lacewings dine on pollen and nectar. This ‘bene’ loves: Cosmos, coreopsis, goldenrod, Marguerite daisies, Queen Anne’s lace, yarrow, dandelion and
No monoculture! This ‘bene’ loves – a good diversity of plants with small flowers such as: Coreopsis, Queen Anne’s Lace, thyme, yarrow, bugleweed, butterfly weed, cilantro, dill, fennel, oregano, hairy vetch. Many species of adult ladybugs eat pollen and nectar as well as pest insects. It Controls: Adults and their larvae enjoy: aphids, Colorado potato beetle larvae, lace bugs, Mexican bean beetle larvae, mealybugs, scale, spider mites, whiteflies, and eggs of several insects.
9. Minute Pirate Bug
These pests are common throughout the USA. Because they are early predators, coming on the scene in the beginning of spring, they will look to quell hunger with both plants and prey. This ‘bene’ loves – parsley, sage, wallflower, wild mustard, basket of gold. It Controls: Adults and nymphs enjoy: aphids, small caterpillars, lace bugs, scale, spider mites, whiteflies, various eggs and Mexican bean beetle larvae.
10. Parasitic Wasp “Trichogramma”
Invite adult parasitic moths into your garden for a visit and to stay. This ‘bene’ loves – some single flowering herbs and plants such as: thyme, dill, fennel, lemon balm, statice, yarrow, zinnia, allium and alyssum. It Controls: Aphids, beetle larvae, bagworms, cabbage worms, Colorado potato beetle, corn ear worms, cucumber beetles, cutworms, gypsy moth caterpillars, Japanese beetles, leafminers, mealybugs, Mexican bean beetle, moth caterpillars, sawfly larvae, scale, squash vine borers, tent caterpillars, tobacco budworms, whiteflies and tomato hornworms.
11. Praying Mantis
Beware that this beneficial will eat almost any insect (beneficials included). To attract and keep them, look to provide habitat suitable for egg laying. Choices such as: Ironweed, goldenrod, Joe Pye weed, ornamental grasses, raspberries and bramble. It Controls: Aphids, asparagus beetles, caterpillars, Colorado potato beetles, earwigs, four lined plant bugs, leafhoppers, Mexican bean beetles and squash bugs.
12. Robber Fly
This beneficial bugger is carnivorous and depends upon plants for habitat. To make the garden “right” for the robber fly plant a diverse planting, lots of herbs, trees, evergreens, flowering plants.
It Controls: Colorado potato beetles, four lined plant bugs, Japanese beetles and Mexican bean beetles.
Provide a mixed habitat of many plants with various bloom times and height. It Controls: Aphids, asparagus beetles, Colorado potato beetles, cutworms, fire ants, four lined plant bugs, lace bugs, sawfly larvae, spider mites, tobacco budworms and squash bugs.
14. Tachnid Fly
Keep this beneficial around by providing habitat rich in nectar from small flowers especially flowering herbs such as: dill, cilantro, fennel, parsley, and Queen Anne’s Lace. This fly also likes nectar from members of the daisy family: Aster, chamomile, feverfew, ox-eye, daisy. Also, flowering buckwheat. It Controls: Many kinds of caterpillars, Colorado potato beetle, corn ear worms, cucumber beetles, cutworms, earwigs, four lined plant bugs, Japanese beetles, Mexican bean beetles, sawfly larvae, tobacco budworms and squash bugs.
4 Tips to Get Beneficial Predator Insects FAST!
1. Order live beneficial insects online, or locally.
2. Plant diversity is key for habitat
3. Provide the plants they want
4. Provide the habitat requirements they want