How to Attract Beneficial Insects to Your Garden
Beneficial insects are your garden's first and most natural line of defense against the pest insects that can damage your garden plants.
- Ladybugs* (Ladybirds) - Ladybugs can consume more than 5,000 aphids during their lifetime.
Feeds on: Aphids, whitefly, mites, fleas
Plants that attract ladybugs: Dill, dandelion, Alyssum, common yarrow
Feeds on: Aphids, scale insects, caterpillars
Plants that attract hoverflies: Yarrow, dill, Alyssum, lavender
- Praying Mantis
Feeds on: Wide range including caterpillars, moths, beetles, and crickets
Plants that attract mantis: Tall grasses and shrubs, cosmos, marigolds, dills
- Parasitic Wasps
Feeds on: Caterpillars, aphids
Plants that attract parasitic wasps: Yarrow, dill, lemon balm, parsley
Feeds on: Wide range including bed bugs, aphids, cockroaches, grasshoppers, mosquitoes, and fruit flies
Plants that attract spiders: Tall plants for weaving spiders, mulch for predatory spiders
- Ground Beetles
Feeds on: Slugs, caterpillars, ants, cutworms
Plants that attract ground beetles: Evening primrose, amaranths, clover
- Damsel Flies
Feeds on: Caterpillars, mites, aphids, beetles
Plants that attract damselflies: Caraway, fennel, alfalfa, spearmint, goldenrod
Feeds on: Aphids, whitefly, leafhopper, mealybugs, caterpillars of pest moths
Plants that attract lacewings: Dill, angelica, coriander, dandelion, chamomile
- Soldier Beetles
Feeds on: Grasshopper eggs, aphids, soft-bodied insects
Plants that attract soldier beetles: Goldenrod, zinnia, marigold, linden trees
- Tachinid Flies
Feeds on: Gypsy moths, Japanese beetles, cutworms, shield bugs
Plants that attract tachinid flies: Carrots, cilantro, dill, coriander, buckwheat
- Mealybug Destroyer Ladybird
Feeds on: Mealybugs (not all species)
Plants that attract mealybug destroyers: Fennel, dill, angelica, sunflower, goldenrod
- Predatory Mites
Feeds on: Spider mites
Attracted by: Humid environments like greenhouses and planting tunnels
Other Things To Consider When Attracting Beneficial Insects to Your Garden
- If using an insecticide, do so selectively
Insect pests tend to be target-specific and only attack some species of plants. Only treat plants being attacked by pests.
- Choose pesticides carefully
Look for natural organic pesticides that break down rapidly after application. Choose those that specifically target the pest you wish to eliminate.
- Don’t spray during the daytime
This is especially true when treating flowering plants. The vast majority of beneficial insects are active during daylight hours. Wait until dusk to spray, using a product that breaks down quickly. When you do this, you avoid targeting beneficial insects, and you reduce the chance of negatively impacting them with residual chemicals when the sun rises.
- Provide safe water drinking
Be sure that any deep water in your garden has stones protruding above the surface included, so the wasps (and other beneficial insects) can drink without drowning.
*Note: The Harlequin ladybird is regarded as a pest in New Zealand and other countries where it has been introduced.