What are beneficial insects for the garden
Beneficial insects are insects that are good for gardens and grows. They help pollinate and in some cases serve as biological control. This is great for organic gardens.
Some types of good bugs are the natural enemies of many common bad bugs that often take over gardens. Beneficial insects raise the ecological diversity of your garden. They also defend plants and crops from harmful insects and pests.
Beneficial Garden insects may also be known as beneficial bugs.
Beneficial insects are predatory and parasitic in nature. Good bugs are often used as a pest control tool in organic farming and gardening. They are also used as integrated pest management (IPM).
Beneficial insects can be manually placed into a garden habitat or they can be attracted naturally. Invite beneficial insects for the garden by growing pollen and nectar plants nearby. Some of these attractive plants include rose, cilantro, marigold, milkweed, and dandelion.
Beneficial insects also require a good area so that they can thrive and combat the garden pests. The most common beneficial insects include ladybugs, lacewings, earwigs, assassin bugs, ground beetles, and tachinid flies.
You can buy these insects from places that specialize in biological control of pests. Beneficial insects work best in enclosed areas such as greenhouses, grow tents, and indoor gardens.
The IPM program aims to use good bugs for pest control in the early stages of a pest take over. Pesticides are a last resort. Beneficial insects work best when they are released before the pests take over. They do not work as fast as chemicals so it takes time for beneficial insects to combat pests.
Check out our complete guide on beneficial garden insects here!
Types of beneficial insects
Leafhopper Assassin Bugs are great general predators in gardens and greenhouses. They remain predatory in all life stages. Their rapid feeding habits and tendency to kill for the sake of killing make them ideal for continued control. Some target pests include leafhoppers, aphids, mealybugs, thrips, small caterpillars and more.
Assassin Bugs can feed on bigger prey than many other beneficial insects. Assassin Bugs also have a high birth rate so they can maintain and even grow their population with ease.
Green lacewings are excellent additions to any IPM program. They provide benefits all growing season. Adults feed on nectar, pollen, and honeydew.
The larvae are predators though. They love soft-bodied insect pests: aphids, thrips, whitefly, leafhoppers, spider mites (especially red mites) and mealybugs.
Green lacewing larvae roam plant foliage looking for prey when they hatch. They love pest eggs, nymphs or adults. They feed for 2-3 weeks then spin a cocoon. They come out as adults 10-14 days later.
Lacewings can handle a wide temperature range and work well with most beneficial insects. These are great for many seasons too. Combine lacewing releases with companion planting and cover cropping to help keep adults around to lay eggs for coming seasons.
An icon of the beneficial insect world, praying mantids are great helpers in garden pest control. Commonly called the "praying mantis", there are 14 other families of mantises! They are general predators with a wide appetite consisting of many insects and the occasional small animal. Mantis egg sacks can contain between 150-200 eggs.
Mature adults usually live from spring to fall at which time they mate. Within a few weeks after copulation, female praying mantis usually die. The male literally loses his head during mating when the female will bite it off and eat it.
While this behavior is usually seen in the lab, people think it is much more rare in the wild. Maybe these actions help explain why mantids are loners.
Ladybugs are also known as lady beetles or even ladybird beetles. In European they are referred to as "ladybirds." Adult lady beetles are round beetles no more than 3/8" in length. They can be red, orange, or black in color with or without spots.
The favorite foods of ladybugs include aphids, spider mites and mealybugs. They will also prey on eggs of some insects, usually the European Corn Borer and the Colorado Potato Beetle.
Ladybugs in both the larval and adult stages feast on these insects. A ladybug will devour thousands of aphids in its lifetime!
Ladybugs, or lady beetles, are a beneficial bug. They help rid an area of pests like aphids, mealybugs and other destructive insect pests. The adult ladybugs feed on these insects. They also lay their eggs among the aphids or other prey so the larvae born can feed on the insects.
Beneficial nematodes are colorless roundworms which are non-segmented and elongated in shape. They are usually microscopic and commonly found living within the soil.
Nematodes, or beneficial nematodes, can be used to control pests in your soil. They are useless for control of pests found in the leaf canopy. Beneficial nematodes for garden insect control may be used to squash many pests. These pests include caterpillars, cutworms, thrips and fungus gnats to name a few.
There are also bad nematodes. The difference between good nematodes and bad ones is simply which host they attack. Bad nematodes will cause damage to crops or other plants.
Chemicals vs beneficial insects
The dangers of chemical pesticides can be bad, and even some organic pesticides can be lethal to sensitive creatures like bees. How, then, can you keep insect pests under control?
An healthy garden has a bunch of insects, and that’s a good thing. Insects are part of the food web and are an important protein source for many other creatures. If you want songbirds, you need to support the insects they eat.
So avoid using pesticides, and instead include native plants in your garden! These attract and support the native insects that keep pests under control!
Check out our learning center for more info on pest control here! If you would prefer to talk, give us a call at 888-815-9763. Our master growers are here to help.