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Beneficial Insects

Posted in Garden Advice on November 04, 2019

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.

  1. Ladybugs* (Ladybirds) - Ladybugs can consume more than 5,000 aphids during their lifetime.
    Feeds on: Aphids, whitefly, mitesfleas
    Plants that attract ladybugs: Dill, dandelion, Alyssum, common yarrow
  2. Hoverflies
    Feeds on: Aphids, scale insects, caterpillars
    Plants that attract hoverflies: Yarrow, dill, Alyssum, lavender
  3. Praying Mantis
    Feeds on: Wide range including caterpillars, moths, beetles, and crickets
    Plants that attract mantis: Tall grasses and shrubs, cosmos, marigolds, dills
  4. Parasitic Wasps
    Feeds on: Caterpillars, aphids
    Plants that attract parasitic wasps: Yarrow, dill, lemon balm, parsley
  5. Spiders
    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
  6. Ground Beetles
    Feeds on: Slugs, caterpillarsants, cutworms
    Plants that attract ground beetles: Evening primrose, amaranths, clover
  7. Damsel Flies
    Feeds on: Caterpillars, mites, aphids, beetles
    Plants that attract damselflies: Caraway, fennel, alfalfa, spearmint, goldenrod
  8. Lacewings
    Feeds on: Aphids, whitefly, leafhopper, mealybugscaterpillars of pest moths
    Plants that attract lacewings: Dill, angelica, coriander, dandelion, chamomile
  9. Soldier Beetles
    Feeds on: Grasshopper eggs, aphids, soft-bodied insects
    Plants that attract soldier beetles: Goldenrod, zinnia, marigold, linden trees
  10. Tachinid Flies
    Feeds on: Gypsy moths, Japanese beetles, cutworms, shield bugs
    Plants that attract tachinid flies: Carrots, cilantro, dill, coriander, buckwheat
  11. Mealybug Destroyer Ladybird
    Feeds on: Mealybugs (not all species)
    Plants that attract mealybug destroyers: Fennel, dill, angelica, sunflower, goldenrod
  12. 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.

David Brittain

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