Beneficial predator insects help keep garden pests away. Here are 3 of the best garden predators & some tips on bringing them to your garden…
One of the best ways to minimize pests in your organic garden is to attract lots of beneficial predator insects that will happily eat up the pesky bugs that terrorize your crops. This is a much more sustainable and ecologically friendly way to control garden pests than using insecticides – even organic-approved ones. Predator insects usually eat only specific pests, so they won’t bother other beneficial insects such as pollinators, which even some organic pesticides can harm.
You may be able to purchase some beneficial predator insects (such as ladybugs), but the best way to get these garden helpers into your garden is to attract them naturally by planting native plants that they love in your garden. Many modern gardens are lacking in native plant species, but they are generally very easy to grow, and often quite visually attractive as well. And many of these species will attract multiple types of beneficial insects.
Here are 3 of the best beneficial predator insects, what pests they will help control, and what kinds of plants to grow to attract them to your garden, from GreenHome.com:
The adult lady beetle is a friendly, colorful garden tenant that acts as an excellent natural pesticide. It eats aphids, mites, mealybugs, and their larvae.
Best plantings to bring ladybugs flying into your hood include:
Covered in a big orange helmet and coat of black armor across its back, the soldier beetle is aptly named. Although it is known for feasting on harmful as well as beneficial garden pests, this beetle is an excellent aphid and caterpillar hunter. If you don’t appreciate aphids, and you have lots of caterpillars that munch through important plants in no time, it may be worth having these beetles guarding your flora.
To attract the soldier beetle plant:
These buzzing beauties have probably been on the receiving end of your swatting hand in the past but now you may think twice before you squash. Lacewings consume a nice menu of aphids, caterpillars, mealybugs, scales, thrips, and whiteflies, helping to make your gardening consist of less labor and more love.
Give them something to fly to by planting:
- Sweet alyssum
There are lots of other helpful predator insects as well, including hover flies, praying mantises, various kinds of wasps, and, of course, spiders. Planting a variety of native and flowering plants is a great way to attract these and other beneficial bugs to your garden.