Gardeners often clump insects together, viewing them all as pests. Yet there are plenty of beneficial insects that can help crops thrive and turn any garden into a well functioning ecosystem.
Syrphid or Hover Flies
These little insects are often mistaken for bees, but they are actually flies. The easiest way to tell the difference is by looking at their wings. Syrphid flies only have 2. The adults can often be seen hovering in mid-air, before darting off. The larvae of these creatures feast on aphids, while the adults spend their time darting from flower to flower, aiding in pollination.
Lady Beetles or Ladybugs
These beetles and their larvae thoroughly enjoy feasting on aphids, mealy bugs, and spider mites. Ladybugs are attracted to fennel, dill, cilantro, caraway, angelica, tansy, wild carrot, yarrow, and dandelion. The ladybug in the photo is a Spotted Pink Lady Beetle. They can often be found munching on pest larvae such as Colorado potato beetle eggs.
There are several species of parasitic wasps, and although their name may sound scary, they have no interest in hurt humans. The amount of pests that can be controlled by parasitic wasps is nothing short of amazing. They can effectively control aphids, scale, whiteflies, sawfly larvae, ants, leaf miners, and many types of caterpillars. This bugs also parasitize the larvae of several pests, including tomato hornworms, codling moths, cabbage loopers, and cabbageworms.
These pest eating wasps are attracted to dill, cilantro, fennel, and many more flowering plants and shrubs.
This is one of the prettiest beneficial insects you will find in your garden. This delicate little insect has large translucent wings and it can devour a deceptively large amount of soft bodied pests, like aphids, scale, and thrips. The larvae of these insects can also help keep caterpillar populations down in your garden.
Ground beetles are wonderful for any garden! They generally come out at night and forage through the soil, eating cutworms, caterpillars, maggots, and slug eggs. These beetles will patrol your soil and keep your plants safe.