Encourage Good Bugs for a Thriving Garden

Gardens need bugs and bugs need gardens, as annoying as that may sometimes may be. This doesn't mean that every little creeper that enters your garden should be welcome there. In fact, one of the jobs of many good bugs is to get rid of bad bugs. Or, at least, to discourage (or eat!) insects and flying bugs that are bad for your flowers, plants, and for your landscape.

Below I've listed a few varieties of beneficial insects, insects whose presence will help most gardens thrive, and which plants are most attractive to them.

Ladybugs (ladybirds, ladybeetles)

ladybug on green leaves - beneficial garden bugs

cc via wikimedia

Its the young of these cute little bugs that is the most ferocious. When it comes to eating aphids and the like, that is. The adults do their part as well, of course, munching away until the destructive bugs are gone.

Get to know the various types of ladybugs, as well as the appearance of their larvae. A surprising number of gardeners don't recognize the newborn ladybugs (which look completely different from the adults) and, so, they grab their spray and get rid of one of the best bad bug munchers around.

Some of the plants that best attract ladybugs are:

Marigold, queen anne's lace, tansy, golden marguerite, fennel, common and fern-leaf yarrow.


lacwing on purple plant--beneficial garden bugs

cc via flickr

These fanciful-looking flying insects feed delicately on only pollen, nectar and aphid honeydew–the real predators in the family are their larva. These newborns gladly gobble up a variety of aphids, whiteflies, thrips, leafhopper eggs, moths, caterpillars and other types of destructive bugs. The little lacewing larva mouths are ever-busy–but this stage only lasts about three weeks, so it might be necessary to replace them.

Attract these garden hoovers with some strategic planting of…:

Fern-leaf yarrow, dill, tansy, golden marguerite, caraway, coriander, and fennel.

Syrphid Fly (hover fly, flower fly)

The first thing to know about the syrphid fly is, though it looks like a small bee, it doesn't sting! They are beneficial insects, in fact, mostly because they, too, have larva that is constantly hungry. The small mouths and huge appetites love to feast on mealy bugs, aphids and other garden nuisances.

Entice syrphid flies to put their nursery in your garden by planting:

Fern-leaf yarrow, edging lobelia, lemon balm, penny royal, caraway, parsley, penny royal and a number of other plants and flowers.

Keeping a garden beautiful and free of pests, and helping it thrive, can be a very time consuming process. Which is why it is important to let nature help you out, and allow beneficial bugs to do most of the work for you. Letting beneficial insects do what comes naturally also helps keep your garden and atmosphere free of harsh bug-killing chemicals–some of which wind up killing the good bugs along with the bad.

These are just a few of the insects and flying creatures that are beneficial to gardens and landscapes. If you are in doubt, ask us! We'll be happy to let you know if you should keep and encourage the bug you've come across in your garden… or find some hungry larva to help you get rid of it.