Beneficial bugs in your garden.

May 26, 2011

I don’t know what it is but bugs seem to love me. The minute I step outside to sit or work in my garden I immediately feel them biting. Mosquitoes, flies, gnats, they all seem to magically appear and swarm my sensitive skin. And anyone who’s been stung by a bee or wasp knows how painful that can be. Fortunately for me I can spray my skin so soft and the bugs disappear as mysteriously as they had appeared. However, unfortunately for my poor green babies it’s not as easy to remedy.

Photo courtesy of Rafal N.

Photo courtesy of Rafal N.

            True, you can spray your plants with an insecticide, but, to me, this defeats the purpose of having a garden. When you spray with insecticides, like it or not,  you no longer have a true organic garden. Most vegetable gardeners choose growing their own vegetables over buying for many reasons. Among them being the fact that what goes in to the garden can be controlled by the gardener and poisonous chemicals are not something we want to be adding to our food. In addition, pesticides are not discretionary, they rid your garden of all insects, good and bad. And most seasoned gardeners understand the difference between good and bad bugs. It’s estimated that 97% of bugs found in your garden and home are either beneficial or harmless.

Ladybug larva by Wolfbix

Ladybug larva by Wolfbix


            When I was growing up it was considered to be good luck if a lady bug landed on you. Well it’s good luck for your garden too. The lady bug is actually a type of beetle and there are a variety of groups. Lady bugs are natural enemies of many insect pests and are capable of consuming 50 to 60 aphids in one day. Amazingly, one single lady bug can consume 5,000 aphids in a lifetime. Which is a very beneficial thing because aphids can cause damage and even destroy some plants and trees. Lady bugs feed on a wide variety of insects and larvae besides aphids, including leaf hoppers, mealy bugs and  mites. Some lady bugs also feed on plant and pollen mildew. In order to attract lady bugs in your garden, consider planting herbs and flowers that are popular with lady bugs such as yarrow, dill, fennel, cilantro, coreopsis, scented geraniums and dandelions.  And, as difficult as it may be, don’t squash every bug you find on your plants because when you do you’re eliminating the lady bug’s food source and they won’t stick around.


Ladybug courtesy of Jeremy Vandel

            There are four types of beneficial insects found in the garden.

  1. Predators include ladybugs, spiders and lizards.
  2. Parasitoids are  insects that complete its larval development inside the body of another insect which it eventually kills. Wasps are parasitoids.  
  3. Pollinators are insects that transfer pollen from a plant’s male reproductive organs to the female reproductive organs in order to form seeds. Bees are the most common pollinators. Some moths and butterflies are also pollinators.
  4. Decomposers/recyclers are insects that break down and decompose more complex compounds and turn them into more beneficial, simpler and more usable forms. The lowly fly and humble earthworm are among these types of insects.

As gardeners, we would do well to utilize and make the most of what Mother Nature has given us. Using and living side by side with the natural gift of beneficial bugs can help us and our gardens as well as the environment. You can read more about beneficial insects here.

Article by Susan Barton, Contributing Writer

2 Responses to “Beneficial bugs in your garden.”

  1. […] Beneficial InsectsMost of the insects in your garden are beneficial or harmless and do not need control! About such insects: […]

  2. […] article originally appeared here. Share […]

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