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Read this before you reach for the insecticide – Unmasking the 8 most beneficial insects for your plants
When gardeners consider insects in their garden, the focus is typically on pests threatening ornamental and edible plants. However, it’s essential to note that most insects are not harmful, and some play a beneficial role by supporting plant health through pollination and pest control. Keep reading to learn about the beneficial insects for your plants.
- Assassin bugs, ranging from 2/5 to 4/5 inches long, come in various colors, including black, brown, and vibrant hues. With around 200 native species in North America, these long-lived predatory insects play a vital role in natural pest control. They have a diverse diet, preying on insects like aphids, beetles, caterpillars, flies, and leafhoppers. Their feeding method involves piercing their victims with a curved dagger-like beak and extracting bodily fluids.
It’s important to avoid direct contact with assassin bugs, as they can cause a painful, stinging bite. To attract assassin bugs to your garden, consider planting daisies, goldenrods, marigolds, Queen Anne’s lace, and herbs such as dill and fennel. Moreover, provides hiding places like wood piles, mulch, or leaf debris. These locations serve as strategic ambush points where assassin bugs can effectively prey on other insects.
- Damsel bugs are native to North America. These slender insects can grow up to ½-inch long in brown, black, or beige coloring. These beneficial predators are most active during the summer months. Both adults and larvae play an essential role in pest control, preying on various soft-shelled insects, including aphids, cabbage worms, small caterpillars, spider mites, and thrips.
Consider planting caraway, fennel, and spearmint to attract damsel bugs to your garden. Additionally, they are drawn to crops such as alfalfa, clover, and soybeans. Allow adult damsel bugs to overwinter in protected sites with ground cover plants or leaf debris. It is advisable to leave garden beds undisturbed until spring to provide suitable conditions for their continued presence.
- Bees are essential pollinators, crucial in plant reproduction and crop yield. This diverse group of beneficial insects includes honeybees, bumble, mason, and native bees. Cultivate various flowering plants, including native species that serve as a nectar food source to attract bees to your garden. A few excellent plant choices for bees are asters, chives, coneflowers, and sunflowers.
Consider providing bee houses for mason and other hole-nesting bees, offering shelter and nesting spaces to maintain a bee-friendly environment in your yard. Leave patches of bare soil for bumblebees, as they often nest in underground tunnels beneath the soil. Additionally, strategically place shallow water dishes around your yard, with small rocks or pebbles for bees to stand on while drinking.
- Garden spiders are 8-legged predators and belong to the arachnid family. They construct webs to ensnare pests like aphids, beetles, caterpillars, fruit flies, and grasshoppers. Once the web is spun, the garden spider patiently waits for its prey to become entangled, injecting venom to immobilize it. The captured prey may be consumed immediately or stored for future consumption.
Create spaces around your yard that provide sufficient room for spiders to spin their webs. To maintain spiders in your yard, offer protection from the elements, such as mulch, grass clippings, or dead leaves. Additionally, consider providing sheltered areas, such as empty flower pots turned on their side, or protected spaces around your home’s exterior where spiders can seek refuge.
If your tree has been infested with a pest, contact American Tree Experts Inc. today. Our pest control services can help rid your trees of harmful pests before their eggs hatch. Call us at (973) 774-6091 today and let us help you with our wide range of services.