BENEFICIAL GARDEN INSECTS AND BUGS
Beneficial garden insects and bugs are helpful insects you want to welcome into your garden. They can be any number of species of insects, with one thing in common, they benefit your plants with pollination or pest control.
Below you will learn about several beneficial insects and bugs, what they look like, and how to spot them in your yard or garden. Also, learn how to control them and what to do to help prevent them in the first place.
Lady Beetle or Ladybird Beetle (Coccinellidae)
Also known as a ladybug, the adults are typically a brick red or orange with black markings. But some are black with red markings.
Their larvae look like miniature alligators. They live up to this appearance by being voracious predators of many garden pests. That’s why ladybugs are among the most visible and best known beneficial predatory insect.
450 Different Species
There are more than 450 species of ladybugs in North America. Some are native, and some have been introduced from other countries.
Most North American species are beneficial, with both adult and larvae feeding primarily on aphids, as well as, mites, small insects, and insect eggs, beetles, thrips, and pollen and nectar. They will also feed on their own young.
Ladybugs overwinter as adults, often in groups or masses along hedgerows, in logs, in ground cover beneath leaf-litter, under rocks and even in buildings or houses. Gathering in masses helps them conserve resources and brings males and females together for reproductive purposes. In the spring the adults set out in search of food and egg laying sites.
To encourage the ladybug into your garden, supply them with food and moisture. Small and shallow-faced flowers provide adults easy access to nectar and pollen. Plant Alyssum, herbs from the dill and mint families, and flowers from the daisy family.
If you find you cannot attract enough ladybugs to your garden you can purchase them here.
Although there are several tiny parasitic wasps, the most common are the Ichneumon wasp, Braconid wasps, and the Chalcid wasps.
You are more likely to see the work of these tiny parasitic wasps then the wasp itself. You may find the work of a parasitic wasp on the back of a tomato hornworm. They look like a grain of white rice. Also, you may find a black or golden aphid mummy with a hole in it. That is all work of the parasitic wasp.
Unlike yellow jackets or other wasps that sting, very few species of parasitic wasp sting. And these wasps are so tiny you will not even know they are there.
This species of Ichneumon wasps attack garden pests such as cutworms, corn earworms, white grubs, and various caterpillars.
The largest of the parasitic wasps, the adult range in size from 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches, sporting longer antennae’s, slender bodies with 16 or more segments. Females usually have a long needle-like appendage used for egg laying purposes.
Color may vary with some being drab while others are brightly colored. An some have black and yellow bands like stinging wasps.
The life cycle of the Ichneumon begins with the mother injecting eggs into a host’s body-usually a grub, caterpillar, or pupa. They may need a certain species of insect as a host.
Female Ichneumons search over tree trunks looking for larvae of wood-boring insects: once detected, the female injects her eggs in the larva. Her young hatch and devour their host, pupate, and emerge to begin the cycle again.
Ichneumon play a huge role in controlling pest insects including:
- Tomato hornworm
- Boll weevils
- Wood borers
These wasps make up the second-largest family in the order Hymenoptera. They are tiny wasps ranging in length from 1/16 inch to 5/16 inch, with stout bodies. Most are dark with some color markings but are hard to see without magnification.
The female Braconid wasp deposits her eggs inside the host insect’s body. The young hatch and pupate, killing the host. They emerge from their host and begin the next cycle of life.
Braconid pest hosts include various species:
- Garden webworm
- Tomato hornworm
- Army worms
- Strawberry Leafroller
- Tent Caterpillars
- Various others
These very small wasps range from 1/64 to 5/16 inch in length. This small Chalcid wasp is usually black or yellow with transparent wings and the Chalcid wasps do not fold their wings when at rest like other wasps.
This group includes the well-known Trichogramma wasp.
The Chalcid wasp is available commercially for pest control purposes. They are effective parasites in the garden.
To encourage the parasitic wasps in your garden, supply them with food and moisture. Adult wasps feed on nectar and pollen. By planting small and shallow-faced flowers in your garden you provide these wasps with easy access to a food supply.
When you plant Alyssum, herbs from the dill family and flowers from the daisy family you will attract these beneficial wasps to your garden.
Remember: If you have a bird bath or pool in your garden, place stones in water so wasps have a place to land and drink safely.
Chalcid wasps are effective parasites that attack many insects including:
- Cabbage worm
- cabbage Looper
- Corn Borer
- Corn earworm
- Codling Moth
- Strawberry Leaf roller
- Tomato hornworm
Lacewings (Neuroptera) or Net-winged insect
Lacewings are found throughout the United States. The adult lacewings are slender and bright green with long antennae’s, having four membranous wings, all about the same size, with many veins. They have chewing mouthparts, with large lateral compound eyes.
The adult lacewing feeds on pollen and nectar and the honeydew produced by aphids and scales.
Eggs of lacewings are laid in groups with each egg held aloft on a threadlike stalk. Eggs hatch in three to five days: the larval stage lasts about two to three weeks. Pupation lasts about five days, and adults live for four to six weeks. Females lay about 200 eggs in their lifetime. There can be up to three to four generations per year.
The larvae are yellowish-gray, mottled with brown. They have large mouthparts and in general have three pairs of thoracic legs, each ending in two claws which are used for piercing and sucking prey. They reach 3/8 inch long before they pupate.
You can attract lacewings to your garden with food and moisture. Plant small shallow-faced flowers to provide nectar and pollen for feeding. Also, you can plant Alyssum, dill, and daisies to attract lacewings to the garden.
Remember: Provide a safe drinking place by putting rocks in your birdbath for a safe landing place.
Lacewings are predators of many garden insects including:
- Other soft-bodied pests and their eggs
Lacewings are often called the aphid lion. Because they can eat 200 or more pests or their eggs per week between hatching and pupation.
These beneficial insects can be purchased and placed in the garden. To purchase these insects you can choose from 1000 lacewing eggs or you can get 5000 lacewing eggs. Buy some to give your garden the benefits it needs to thrive throughout the season.
Now that you know which insects and bugs are beneficial to your garden, would you like to find out about the other types of insects and bugs found in the garden?
A guide to Garden Insects and Bugs
For a healthy beautiful garden learn how to tell which insects you want in the garden and which ones you don’t. It’s a complete guide with over 30 different insects and bugs. Find out how to spot, control, and destroy them. Download the guide and receive weekly newsletter from Daisies-n-dollars.com. Sign up and join us today and get this gardening guide FREE!
These beneficial garden insects and bugs will benefit your garden by killing off the pests insects and bugs and leave you with a healthier garden and yard. You can attract them to your yard with various plants or purchase them from a commercial vender such as Amazon or check with your local garden supply store.
Here’s to creating a healthy, thriving, productive garden you can be proud of. Good luck with your gardening projects.
Thanks for reading,