Have you noticed that bugs are eating some of the flowers and vegetables that you planted? If so, you are more than likely thinking about treating their presence with pesticides. You probably don’t know that the pesticides you treat your garden pests with will also kill the insects that are beneficial to your garden. Did you know that there are beneficial insects in the garden? They’re not all evil creepy-crawlies. These insects feed off of the insects that are damaging your vegetables and other plants and act as a sort of natural form of pest control. Below is a list of insects that are helpful in your garden and why they are beneficial.
If you have almost any kind of fruit, vegetable, or flower growing, you have probably seen a lacewing hanging around in your garden. It is also known as an aphid lion because the larvae feed on aphids, as well as on arachnids and other soft-bodied garden pests. The adults usually feed off of honeydew (which is secreted by aphids) and pollen. Some of the adults continue feeding off other insects. There are over 1,200 species of the lacewing globally. Approximately 85 species are buzzing around North America. The adults have lacy wings that are transparent, light green bodies, and long antennae. The larvae are brown with flat bodies.
Lady beetles, better known as lady bugs, are also good for your garden. Adult lady beetles will eat hundreds of garden pests before they can lay their eggs. They lay eggs on plants that are infested with pests to target the damaging populations. Lady beetles can spread 1,000 eggs in a few months. It only takes four days for these eggs to hatch, and the bugs lay eggs from spring to early summer. North America is home to over 450 species of ladybugs.
You have probably mistaken this next bug as a pest because you have to be careful when handling it. The assassin bug will bite you if you aren’t careful, and the bite can be painful. The saliva of the assassin bug contains toxins that paralyze insect prey and liquefies bugs’ insides. These insects have the ability to fool their prey in order to catch it; they can camouflage themselves in dead bugs’ carcasses to attract a meal. You can find over 100 types of these bugs in North America.
The praying mantis is another familiar face in the garden that can help in keeping pests at bay. A praying mantis is a large insect that is commonly mistaken as a predator in your garden, but they are actually more beneficial than most other insects. They feed on most pests. However, when a praying mantis is hungry, it will feed on other beneficial insects as well. For the most part, it doesn’t have a specific type of insect that it targets. North America is home to 20 different species.
When you spray pesticides on your garden, it kills these good insects as well. Check out this Wiki post on pesticides to learn about the affects it can have. The pests will usually come back before the beneficial insects do. If you come across any of these helpful bugs while looking around in the garden, let them stay where they are. You should also let these insects feed on the pests and try not to use pesticides if you can avoid them. Avoid handling these bugs; there are a few that will bite you, but they are not venomous.
If you want to learn about more natural ways to treat plants in your garden than take a look here. If you have any questions about treating plants organically or with chemical we would love to answer them! Leave a comment below or hit us up on social media!