June 30, 2020

Good bugs for your garden

Encourage these good bugs in your garden to help control garden pests naturally!

You can find plenty of lists of garden pests and natural control methods on organic gardening websites, but what about the good bugs? Of course, we all know pollinators are important, but there are lots of other beneficial insects that are great to have in your garden as well. Many of these are predatory insects that help to keep the nasty ones under control without you even having to lift a finger.

Ladybugs are one of the most common beneficial garden predators, and we actually had a great ladybug experience last year in our own garden. We had an infestation of aphids setting in on the okra, and as I noticed them multiplying, I figured I should try to get them under control, so I mixed up some soap solution and sprayed the tops of the plants that were most infested (rinsing them off with clean water an hour or so later so the plants wouldn’t be harmed).

A couple of days later, I came back to check, and while some of the aphids were dead, they were still multiplying and moving onto new okra plants. I was going to repeat the spraying, but then I noticed some funny looking creatures crawling under some of the leaves near the aphids. After studying them briefly, I realized they were ladybug larvae (sometimes called “lions”), and decided to hold off on spraying as I didn’t want to harm them. A few days later, I noticed the aphid population was significantly diminished, and there were more of the strange little larvae. Less than a week from the time I had noticed the first ladybug larvae, the aphids were completely GONE, and we had no more for the rest of the summer!

Besides ladybugs, here are 7 other good bugs that can be very beneficial in the garden according to FreshEggsDaily.com – including a couple that may surprise you:

1.) Bees

Bees are pollinators.

Without bees, all these blossoms would not yield fruit and vegetables.

There are lots of different types of bees – honey bees, mason bees, bumblebees, to name a few – and they are all welcome in the garden.

2.) Spiders

Spiders will eat your bad bugs for you.

Daddy Longlegs particularly enjoy dining on aphids, beetles, caterpillars, and flies.

Other varieties of spiders will eat centipedes, earwigs, millipedes, mites, mosquitoes, and moths as well.

3. Dragonflies

Dragonflies will eat nearly any insect they can find, and while they do eat the beneficial bees and even other dragonflies, I still consider them the good guys since they eat mosquitoes, flies, and other bad bugs.

4. Anchor Stink Bugs

This is one variety of stink bug that is a predator insect and will eat other bad bugs, so don’t squish this guy if you see him in your garden! (These have helped us out with our asparagus beetle population.)

5. Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis are every gardener’s friend, but like dragonflies, they will eat pretty much any insect they encounter, including butterflies, bees, and each other.

But they do munch on aphids, squash bugs, and all the other bad guys, so we love our praying mantis.

6. Ants

Ants may not be welcome in the kitchen, but they are beneficial to a garden.

They unintentionally pollinate flowers by crawling through the pollen as they search for food or nectar. They help to aerate the soil by digging tunnels. Ants also eat aphids, mealybugs, and other bad bugs.

7. Ground Beetles

Ground Beetles are good guys.

They will eat potato beetles, corn earworms, squash vine borers, and slugs among other bad bugs.

Besides these helpful bugs, birds and toads are also happy to munch on dozens of different garden pests, so encourage their presence in your garden whenever you can!

We are sometimes too quick to assume that insects we see in our garden are harmful. In fact, there are many good bugs that may be doing a lot more good for your garden than you think. If you see an insect you don’t recognize, do some research first and find out what it is before you take action. It may very well be a garden friend instead of an enemy.

 

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About the author 

Rose S.

An avid gardener since childhood, I love sharing my passion for gardening with others! I have gardened in a number of different climates and settings, from large fenced garden plots, to tiny patio and container gardens, and I firmly believe that everyone can learn to grow at least some of their own food - no matter where you live. Growing your own food can help you take control of your own health and food supply, and there has never been a better time to get started!

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