Bees aren’t the only bugs with a good reputation. There are plenty of beneficial garden bugs that can help your garden grow. If you’re not sure what bugs to let live, check out this list of five good insects for your garden.
Good Garden Bugs to Have Around
Sure, you know ladybugs are cute, but did you also know they’re good bugs for your garden? In fact, these polka dot garden insects 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.
Good to know: If you’re hoping to attract ladybugs, be sure to grow daisies and yarrow in your garden. Also, make sure your garden is well-watered: Ladybugs need access to water droplets to survive.
Possibly the ugliest of the beneficial 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.
Good to know: Lacewings are attracted to goldenrod, yarrow, plants in the aster family, and Black-eyed Susan’s. If you order lacewings online, be sure that you have honey, sweet nectar, or these plants available in your garden.
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 insects. 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.
Good to know: Hoverflies are attracted to goldenrod, yarrow, asters, and Black-eyed Susan’s. Plant these popular plants and you’re more likely to attract hoverflies to your garden.
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 good to have in your garden because they eat more garden insects than all other beneficial 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!
The only thing more terrifying than how these bugs look is their horrifying feeding mechanism. To eat, an assassin bug jabs its prey with a long, probing rostrum, injects it with liquefying 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.
Good to know: Assassin bugs bite, so don’t mess with them.
For more natural ways to keep your garden happy and healthy, please see my Gardening Guides page.