Beneficial insects for the garden.🐌🦋🐛🐝🐜🦟🕷🐞🦗

Having a garden full of insects is actually a good thing!

A lot of these insects are beneficial to your much loved plants and these little guys are actually defending your garden from major pests.

Some garden pests just have to go such as, Japanese Beetles BUT, other insect species can help you wage the war against harmful blights.

The best way to maintain a healthy garden is to educate yourself and learn to identify common “bad bugs.”

Inspect your garden regularly to detect problems early. The sooner a pest is identified the easier it will be to manage using earth-friendly methods. 

Here are some beneficial insects you may find in your garden:

1. Aphid Midge

Aphid midge larvae eat aphids; one larva can eat as many as 65 aphids in a day.
Adult aphid midges are very small, black, flies—less than 1/8 inch long. They look like fungus gnats. Aphid midge larvae are tiny pale yellow to red or brown slug-like creatures. Attract aphid midges to the garden by planting pollen and nectar plants and provide a water source. Aphid midges are tiny and light, so the garden must be protected from winds. They are most effective in controlling aphids at 68−80 °F and high relative humidity.

2. Braconoid wasps

Braconid wasps are parasitic on some caterpillars, boreres, weevils and beetles, making them a beneficial garden visitor. Braconids are short and stocky — the abdomen is about the same length as the head and thorax combined. Unlike other wasps, braconids do not have skinny “waists.” They can be confused with small flies. Different braconids are parasitic on army worms, eastern tent caterpillars, corn borers, cotton bollworms, alfalfa weevils, wheat-stem sawflies and Douglas-fir bark beetles, just to name a few. In the garden and orchard, this beneficial parasitism occurs on aphids, coddling moths, tomato hornworms, garden webworms and on many different caterpillars, beetles and flies.

3. Damsel bugs

Damsel bugs prey on aphids, leafhoppers, plant bugs, thrips, and small caterpillars. Damsel bugs cause no damage to plants.
Adult damsel bugs lay their eggs on meadow grasses. To attract damsel bugs to the garden plant ornamental grasses. As well, damsel bugs are commonly found in unsprayed alfalfa fields. You can collect damsel bugs there and release them in the garden.

4. Ground beetles

Unless you garden at night, you aren’t likely to encounter this nocturnal beneficial insect on a regular basis, even though ground beetles are extremely common – there are over 2,000 species in North America alone. Each species looks different, of course, but most ground beetles are dark and shiny with ridged wing-covers. They hide in grasses or underneath objects during the day, so if you flip over a rock or a log and see a dark beetle scurrying around, there’s a very good chance it’s a ground beetle. Ground beetles are such good bugs in the garden because they scour the garden for prey all night long. Both adult and larval ground beetles consume mites, snails, slugs, caterpillars, earwigs, cutworms, vine borers, aphids, and lots of other insects. Each beetle can eat more than its own body weight in prey insects every night (bye-bye slugs!). 

5. Lacewings

Green lacewings are insect predators that measure ½ to ¾ of an inch long and bear very distinctive, delicate-looking wings that give them their names. These green insects have long antennae and gold or copper eyes. Green lacewings are generalist predators, meaning that they aren’t picky eaters and will prey on a wide range of pests. Common targets include: Mealybugs, Psyllids, Thrips, Mites, Whiteflies, Aphids, Caterpillars and Leafhoppers.

6. Lady beetles/ ladybirds

Ladybugs are also known as lady beetles or even ladybird beetles. In European countries they are referred to as “ladybirds.” Adult lady beetles are round beetles measuring no more than 3/8″ in length. They can be red, orange, or black in color with or without spots.
Larvae are said to look somewhat like an alligator in its shape with tiny spiked projections and orange striping on its blue or black body. Ladybug eggs are yellowish or whitish, oval-shaped and laying in clusters. The favorite foods of ladybugs include aphids, spider mites and mealybugs. They will also prey on eggs of some insects, particularly the European Corn Borer and the Colorado Potato Beetle.
Ladybugs in both the larval and adult stages feast on these insects. Interestingly, a ladybug will devour thousands of aphids in its lifetime!

7. Minute parrot bugs

These fast black and white critters are indiscriminate hunters. They will attack and eat a wide range of bugs and pests. To attract minute pirate bugs to your garden, try planting daisies, yarrow, and alfalfa and rejoice in the decimation of the pest population that is sure to follow.
Plus, you get to tell your friends and family that your garden is full of pirates!

8. Soldier beetles

Soldier beetles are commonly mistaken as other, less beneficial, insects in the garden. When on a bush or flower, they resemble fireflies, but without the ability to glow. In the air they’re often thought to be wasps and quickly shooed away. Smart gardeners who learn what are soldier beetles soon learn to attract these garden friends instead of trying to keep them away. You can identify soldier beetles by their yellowish to tan color, along with a large black spot on each wing. Otherwise known as leatherwings, the colors of soldier beetles vary depending on the part of the country in which they live. These beneficial insects are most useful in the late summer when aphids abound and other predatory insects begin to lay their eggs. Soldier beetle larva help to rid the garden of these pests. In the spring, they can rival bees when it comes to pollinating gardens and flower beds.

9. Spined shoulder bug

Spined soldier bugs are generalist predators. They chow down over 50 different kinds of insects, including the larvae of both beetles and moths. These predator stink bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that they use to grab prey and eat them.They are one of the best predator bugs for reducing pest populations in crops, especially fruit crops, alfalfa and soybeans.

10. Tachinid flies

A tachinid fly is a small flying insect that resembles a house fly. Most kinds are less than ½-inch in length. They usually have a few hairs sticking up and pointing backward and are gray or black in color.Tachinid flies in gardens are very beneficial because they kill pests. In large part to their size, they don’t bother humans, but make things difficult for garden pests. Tachinidae can either lay eggs that a host will consume and later die, or adult flies will insert eggs directly into the host bodies. As the larva develops inside the host, it eventually kills the insect it is living inside. Each species has their own preferred method, but most choose caterpillars or beetles as hosts. In addition to killing unwelcome garden pests, tachinid flies also help pollinate gardens. They can survive at higher elevations where bees cannot. Areas without bees can benefit greatly from this fly’s pollinating skills.

11. Hoverflies

These small, fast-moving insects resemble small wasps, but they are distinctive in their ability to hover near plants or people, examining them with their huge brown eyes. Sometimes called flower flies or syrphid flies, hoverflies sometime do land on people to lick salty sweat, but they do not sting. Adult hoverflies feed on flower nectar and help pollinate some crops, but it is the larvae that are important predators in the garden. The tiny, nearly invisible slug-like larvae scour the undersides of plant leaves for aphids, and eat them as their primary food source. They can be seen with a 10x magnifying glass. Hoverflies that come to your garden in search of flower nectar will also look for plants that are infested with aphids, and scatter their eggs on leaves where young aphids are hatching. Grow plenty of flowers with small florets such as sweet alyssum and members of the carrot family. Tolerate small aphid outbreaks in spring to help support a thriving summer population of hoverflies.

12. Bees

Bees are known as nature’s best pollinators. Without them, we wouldn’t have nearly as many flowers and plants. Bees depend on flowers and plants for nutrition. Nectar is collected for a few reasons. It’s a bee’s main energy source, as it’s full of sugar, which is also used to make honey in their hive. Pollen is full of fat and protein, which helps feed the hive.
When bees collect pollen, they carry it from one flower to another. This cross-pollination is essential for flowers in order to produce more seeds. As bees cross-pollinate, more flowers and plants will grow. A bee gets the nutrients they need, and your garden ends up with more flowers and plants.

13. Spiders

Spiders start their pest-control benefits at the same time insects start appearing. Adult spiders often overwinter in your garden. You might not see them while they sleep, but they are ready to wake up and get to eating as soon as it’s warm enough for insects to be out. This means you don’t have to wait on spider eggs to hatch and babies to grow into adults before you start reaping the benefits of free pest control in your garden. Garden spiders aren’t poisonous, but that doesn’t mean every spider that walks through your garden isn’t. It’s possible you could see a poisonous spider, such as a black widow, but those spiders don’t normally choose gardens as a habitat. True garden spiders have black and yellow markings on their bodies, although other nonpoisonous spiders might take up residence in your garden. They rarely bite, but if they do, the bite is almost like a bee sting — the area might be red and sore for a day or two, but there shouldn’t be any major problems unless you are allergic or have immune system issues. Also, keep in mind that spiders don’t pick what insects that fly into their webs. If bees and butterflies are busy pollinating your flowers or vegetables and fly into a web, the spider is going to eat the helpful insects as well as the annoying ones.

14. Syrphid fly

Meet the syrphid fly, a colorful pollinator that also beats chemicals for controlling aphids and other garden pests. Syrphid flies are colorful, charismatic and fun to watch and can be easily supported with a variety of flowering plants. The adults are good pollinators, regularly visiting flowers for nectar and pollen. Turn over a leaf on a plant afflicted with aphids and you will find syrphid fly larvae swinging their heads from side to side catching and devouring their aphid prey. What more could a gardener ask for in a beneficial insect?

15. Nematode

Nematodes are microscopic soil-dwelling worms, many less than 1/16-inch long.
There are beneficial nematodes and pest nematodes.
Beneficial nematodes help turn organic matter into plant nutrients. They also prey on soil-dwelling plant pests such as white grubs and root maggots.
Pest nematodes feed on plant roots, stunting and sometimes killing plants including many vegetables. Predatory nematodes either have teeth or long spear-like structures which they use to stab and suck the juices out of plants or their insect prey.

16. Earth worm

Earthworms eat decaying plant material and do not damage growing plants
Britain has about 16 species of earthworms likely to be found in gardens
Earthworms occur in most soils
Some earthworms can be used in wormeries to make compost.

17. Assassin bug

Assassin bugs are beneficial insects that should be encouraged in your garden. There are around 150 species of assassin bugs in North America, most of which perform a service to the gardener and farmer. The insects prey on insect eggs, leafhoppers, aphids, larvae, boll weevils and others. The assassin bug is found in crop fields but is also a common insect in the home landscape.

18. Centipede

Millipedes and centipedes are two of the most popular insects to be confused with one another. Many people freak out upon seeing either millipedes or centipedes in gardens, not realizing that both can actually be helpful. Millipedes generally move much slower than centipedes and break down dead plant material in the garden. Centipedes are predators and will eat insects that do not belong in your garden. Both like damp areas and can prove to be beneficial in the garden, as long as their numbers are controlled.

19. Millipede

Centipedes are more active than millipedes and feed on small insects and spiders, using a poison to paralyze their victims. However, their jaws are too weak to cause much damage to humans other than a little swelling, such as with a bee sting.Like the millipedes, centipedes like moist environments, so removing leaf litter or other items where moisture collects will help eliminate their numbers. Centipede treatment outdoors shouldn’t necessarily be a concern; however, if it is needed, removing debris that they may hide under will help keep them from hanging around. While millipedes can damage your plants, centipedes generally will not. In fact, centipedes in gardens can be rather beneficial since they tend to eat insects that could possibly damage your plants.

20. Predatory mites

The predatory mites feed on spider mites and other pest mites as well as thrips and some other small insects. In the absence of prey, predatory mites eat pollen and nectar and can revert to sucking plant juices. There are several varieties of predatory mites in the garden, each of which has a preferred food source.

21. Mealy bug destroyer

Mealybug Destroyers are effective predators of aphids and various soft scales. … The adult female lays her eggs in the cottony egg sack of the mealybug. As soon as they hatch, the destroyers start snacking. Adults and young larvae prefer eggs, while older larvae will consume mealybugs at all stages.

I hope you now realise how many beneficial insects there really are and how they can help your garden- so have a think before you pick up the pest


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