There are many insects crawling around in our gardens which perform vital duties and help them grow. These naturally beneficial bugs perform valuable services such as pollination as well as pest control. Using these insects to control pests has been a common practice for many years now and is regularly implemented by many experienced gardeners.
Beneficial Pest Control Species
Green Lacewings – Green lacewing larvae are a top exterminator of aphids. Nicknamed the “aphid lion”, they will devour them in scores.
Lady Beetles (aka ladybugs) – Both the adults and larvae feed on nearly every known garden pest. Lady Beetles will eat aphids, scale insects, thrips, mealybugs and mites.
Praying Mantids – As a generalist predator, a praying mantis is as likely to eat a beneficial insect as a pest. They are known to feed on aphids, caterpillars, earwigs, leafhoppers, squash bugs and just about anything else.
Ground Beetles – Ground beetle larvae develop in the soil and feed on slugs, root maggots, cutworms and other pests on the ground. A few species will climb up plant stems to hunt caterpillars or insect eggs.
Spiders – Like praying mantids, spiders are generalist predators. While any spiders are beneficial to a garden, they are not very helpful in controlling an outbreak of one specific pest. Some common garden species include grass, orb web weaver, elongate, cob web weaver, jumping, wolf, daddy longlegs, sac and crab spiders.
Syrphid Flies – With looks akin to a bee, syrphid fly adults are beneficial for pollination. They are also called “hover flies” because they are often seen hovering over flowers. Syrphid maggots in the garden crawl on foliage searching for aphids to eat and are known to be good at squeezing into curled leaves where aphids hide.
Beneficial Pollinating Species
The following insects are extremely important for pollinating garden plants and contributing to fruit, vegetable and flower production:
- Green Lacewings
- Flies such as syrphids, tachnids, black soldier and bee flies
- Blue Mason Bees (small blue bees often mistaken for flies)