Click here to meet the "good" bugs.
Bug illustrations: Michel Poirier
Floral background: Corel Gallery
Insects perform a whole host of beneficial activities, such as pollination of food crops and flowers and decomposition of organic materials. In fact, of the approximately one million species of insects, only a small fraction are considered pests. Yet insects continue to be undervalued. Lumped together as creepy crawlies, their mere sight can send people flying to get the spray can. Instead, we should value insects for the vital roles they play in keeping our gardens and our environment healthy.
Many insects are important predators. Learn to recognize these good guys because they are essential allies in keeping the bad guys in check. Welcome them and they will help you create a well-balanced vibrant garden.
There are lots of ways to attract predatory insects to your garden:
- Avoid using pesticides, even organic ones, since they can harm beneficial insects.
- Plant a variety of flowering plants, especially those with many small flowers, as a food source when prey is limited. Flowering herbs, such as coriander, dill, fennel, and parsley, and flowers of the composite family, such as goldenrod, coneflower, sunflower, and coreopsis, are particularly attractive.
- Interplant beneficial attractants among or around plants needing protection, such as vegetables.
- Provide a shallow water dish partially filled with stones as dry landing spots.
- Minimize soil disturbance to protect soil-dwelling insects and their eggs.
- Create mulched or stone pathways to provide shelter for predatory beetles.
- Add compost regularly to allow soil organisms to thrive.
- Allow leaf litter to remain on planting beds to provide overwintering spots.
- Attract beneficial insects to your yard rather than buying and releasing them.