A thriving garden is a desirable goal for all gardeners, but it can be an uphill task without the right measures. While pests are a significant threat to gardens, beneficial insects are the perfect natural defense against them. With the help of beneficial insects, garden pests can be kept in check, soil health can be improved and crop yields can be increased, all without the use of harmful chemicals.
Here are some tips and suggestions to help you attract beneficial insects to your garden and maintain a thriving ecosystem:
Types of Beneficial Insects
The first step to attracting beneficial insects is to identify them. Understanding the most commonly found beneficial insects in the garden can help you recognize them when you spot them. Here are some common examples of beneficial insects:
- Lady Beetles: These are small beetles with heavily spotted wings. They can consume up to 50 aphids a day and also feed on mites and small insects.
- Praying Mantis: These are long, slender insects with triangular heads and can consume almost any insect that is smaller than them, including caterpillars and beetles.
- Lacewings: These delicate insects have transparent wings with veins and are known for their voracious appetites for aphids, mites, and caterpillars.
- Bees: Bees are valued for the vital role they play in pollinating plants. While pollination itself is not a pest control measure, it is a crucial aspect of creating a thriving garden ecosystem.
Creating Healthy Ecosystems in Your Garden
To make your garden a welcoming environment for beneficial insects, you’ll need to keep pests and diseases under control. Techniques that favor beneficial insects should be implemented, such as planting diversity, avoiding chemical pesticides, and providing good habitat.
Having a variety of plants in your garden encourages a diversity of beneficial insect life. By selecting plants that provide essential resources such as pollen, nectar, and alternate hosts, like clovers and thistles, gardeners can help support the life cycle of beneficial insects.
Avoid Chemical Pesticides
Chemical pesticides can severely affect the beneficial insect population in your garden. It is important to avoid using such pesticides as they can disrupt or even wipe out the beneficial insects that protect your garden. Instead, opt for organic pest control measures like naturopathy, companion planting, or neem oil.
Provide Good Habitat
Beneficial insects need good habitats to thrive. You can create good habitats in your garden by leaving a patch of land for native plants, building insect hotels, adding water features like bird baths, and reducing soil disturbance.
Now that you have created a healthy ecosystem in your garden, it’s time to attract beneficial insects. Some tips and suggestions to attract these insects include:
- Use Companion Planting: Companion planting involves pairing plants to attract beneficial insects. For example, daisies will attract lady beetles, while dill and fennel attract parasitic wasps, and clovers and calendula attract lacewings.
- Install Beneficial Insect Houses: To encourage beneficial insects to stay in your garden, you can provide them with a cozy shelter. There are insect houses available in garden centers that provide the perfect habitat for beneficial insects.
- Utilize Traps: Another way to attract beneficial insects is to use traps that capture pests like aphids or whiteflies. When used correctly, these traps can lure beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings to the area.
Plants That Attract Beneficial Insects
Planting the right plants can attract beneficial insects to your garden. Here are some of the best plants species that attract beneficial insects:
- Alfalfa: This plant attracts lady beetles and predaceous ground beetles. It provides a perfect habitat, especially when planted in mid-April through mid-August.
- Sunflowers: Sunflowers are not just pretty to look at and grow. Bees are attracted to their bright blooms, and lady beetles are drawn in by the nectar.
- Angelica: This is a great plant for attracting lacewings and is said to be able to increase their population in the garden.