Many homeowners are wary of pest infestations in their homes. That is a justified concern as these pests are not just unsightly, but possibly carry diseases too. But what doesn’t get mentioned often are the good bugs or the beneficial bugs that make a beautiful and healthy garden. Moreover, they contribute to the environment too.
Beneficial insects are handy, but they don’t come around naturally unless your garden has everything they need to survive. It’s not enough to have a professionally designed garden, some thought on what to add to your garden to attract these insects should be considered too. Here’s what you need to know about beneficial insects and how you can make them permanent residents in your garden instead of casual visitors.
What Do Good Bugs Do?
Even non-gardening enthusiasts have an idea of which bugs are good and which bugs aren’t. A couple of known ones are bees and butterflies. Other than these two, few know of the other beneficial bugs out there.
Did you know that some bugs eat bad bugs? Aphids, caterpillars, and other garden pests are some bugs you don’t want to see around your garden. Good bugs such as ladybugs, lacewings, robber flies, and jumping spiders can take care of that. Since they eat other bugs, they’re great for pest control. Other good bugs to invite in your garden are pollinators.
Pollinators are bees, butterflies, wasps, and the like help flowering plants pollinate. Without them, ecosystems, carbon cycling, and the water cycle would be affected drastically. These little guys do so much for the environment without us realizing it! Pollinators aren’t limited to insects. They are birds, bats, and other small mammals too.
For an easier classification of these bugs, they’re divided into three categories: pollinators, predators, and parasitizers. Pollinators are the friends of the garden. They are in charge of pollinating your garden. Predators are considered the guard dogs of the garden. These bugs get rid of the bad bugs. Most of the time, these insect larvae prey on these pests rather than adults. Lastly, the parasitized are just like the predators, except a little more extra in getting rid of pests. They lay their eggs on or in the bad bugs. When these eggs hatch, the larva feed on the host insect.
How to Get the Good Bugs in Your Garden
Having beneficial insects in your garden won’t just prevent pest infestation, but improve the overall health of your garden too.
Diversify Your Plants
Similar to all living things, these insects need food, water, and shelter. Having these in your garden will make it an enticing home for them. Have a wide variety of plants to attract a wide variety of insects. This will provide food sources and breeding opportunities for these insects, growing their populations.
Bear in mind that specific plants attract specific insects too. Knowing what you want to attract can be useful in deciding which plants you want in your garden. For bugs like bees and butterflies, plant both nectar-bearing and pollen-rich flowers like lavender, sunflower, and cosmos.
Buy Beneficial Insects
If you find a hard time attracting good bugs or want to speed up the process, consider buying them instead. It’s important to already have the plants beneficial to their survival, so once they are released to your garden they can settle in easily, thrive, and reproduce.
How to Keep the Good Bugs
By the time these beneficial bugs start to move in, the next challenge would be keeping them. Here are some ways to keep your garden a livable place for them.
Provide an Accessible Water Source
Because rainwater is not a consistent resource, set out a shallow dish or two of water in your garden. Keep it filled with freshwater, especially during dry spells. Access to water is crucial for their survival.
Keep a Portion of Your Garden Uncultivated
Uncultivated land is great for hiding from predators, especially for non-flying insects. This will also serve as shelter. Similarly, adding a variety of trees and shrubs can be beneficial for other types of insects too. With a diversity of plants, it will encourage the beneficial insects to become residents of your garden.
Avoid Using Insecticides
Although it might be tempting to rid garden pests with insecticides, you have to be considerate of the beneficial insects that already made your garden their habitat. With its continued use, some pests may even build resistance to the insecticide which will only make your job of getting rid of them more difficult.