Beneficials are bugs that are good for your garden.
While we are all familiar with the pollinating power of honeybees, they are many other beneficials that pollinate, including wasps, flies, butterflies and moths, and even some beetles! As these beneficial insects move throughout the garden in search of pollen, nectar and prey, they carry sticky pollen from flower to flower, increasing garden production.
In addition to boosting the garden’s bounty, beneficial insects eat and/or parasitize insects that carry disease and devour crops. Parasitization occurs when a beneficial insect lays its eggs in the body of another insect. When the eggs hatch, the larva devour their host as a first meal. It’s brutal, but that’s how it works.
In our age of convenience and quick results, many gardeners turn to chemicals to rid themselves of bad insects. This is rarely a good idea. Chemical pesticides may kill indiscriminately, removing beneficials as well as bad bugs. Encouraging predator insects to take up residence in the garden can keep most bad bugs under control without any adverse effects to you or the garden.
The most common beneficial insects include:
So, how can you attract and keep these bastions of beneficial bugs?
Many garden shops sell containers of beneficial insects, but this is generally a waste of money. If you do not provide the right habitat, they will leave for greener pastures. If you build it, however, they will come.
The following is a list of plants known to attract and maintain beneficial insects in the garden (From modern farmer):
Spring-Flowering Beneficial Attracting Plants
Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officianalis)
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum)
Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)
Early/Mid Summer-Flowering Plants
Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Mint (Mentha spp.)
Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota)
Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
Late Summer/Fall-Flowering Plants
Bee Balm (Monarda didmya)
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Aster (Aster chilensis)
Not only will these plants attract and maintain beneficial insects in the garden, but they also provide seasonal color and a few tidbits for the kitchen!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!