Bees aren't the only bugs with a good reputation. There are plenty of good garden bugs that can help your garden grow. If you're not sure what beasties to leave be, check out this list of five good bugs that will do their part to keep your garden blooming.
Good Garden Bugs to Have Around
Ladybugs — The Original Good Bugs
Sure, you know ladybugs are cute, but did you also know they're good bugs for your garden? In fact, these polka dot garden bugs eat about 5,000 aphids each in a lifetime. And their larvae put away 50 or more a day too. And aphids aren't the only garden pests these cute serial killers target. Ladybugs also help keep your garden free of asparagus beetles, Colorado potato beetle larvae, chinch bugs, bean thrips and mites. To attract these good bugs to your garden, plant goldenrod, yarrow, and morning glory vine.
Possibly the ugliest of the good garden bugs, larval green lacewing look like they crawled out of a sci-fi sand pit. With chompy mandibles and hairy, armored sides, these good bugs look anything but. It's too bad too, because their larva voraciously eat their way through garden pests like aphids, scale, mealybugs, spidermites, whiteflies and many types of caterpillar eggs. Adult lacewings aren't nearly as useful (as they dine mostly on pollen and nectar) but they're much, much cuter: green and fairy-like, with long wings and antennae. These beneficial buggers are often available for sale as eggs, larvae or adults.
Also called flower flies and syrphid flies, hoverflies look a lot like wasps: with black and yellow striped bodies that imitate the natural colors of much less friendly garden bugs. But don't worry, these air gymnasts are harmless, their biggest threat being their ability to hover in midair and even fly backwards. Not quite as useful as ladybugs and lacewings, hoverflies are still good garden bugs to have guarding your veggies as the eggs they lay hatch aphid-eating larvae.
Spiders — Can Good Bugs Have Eight Legs?
There's nothing itsy bitsy about what spiders can do for your garden. Of all the good bugs that you can invite into your garden, spiders are probably the best. Spiders are such good garden bugs, in fact, that they eat more garden insects than all other beneficial garden bugs combined. (And, yes, I recognize that they're not technically bugs!) So, the next time you're tempted to tear down that web, just think of how many delicious cabbage worms and bean beetles that hard-working spider could catch for you!
Assassin Bugs — The Baddest Looking Good Bug
The only thing more terrifying than how these good garden bugs look is their horrifying feeding mechanism. To eat, an assassin bug jabs its prey with a long, probing rostrum, injects it with liquifying saliva, then starts sucking it up. Mmmmm! If you decide to try these garden guardians, do yourself a favor and steer clear of the blood-sucking South American species and stick with garden-variety North American species.
Do you buy good bugs for your garden? Which beneficial bugs have you found work best?
(Images graciously provided by micky007, ozan, obyvatel, bumpyduey, and runrunrun. Thanks!)