Some garden pests just have to go. (We’re looking at you, Japanese beetles.) However, other insect species can help you wage the war against harmful blights. If you spot one of these ten helpful critters, know that they’re here to help, not hurt.
Pollen plants will bring aphid midges to your garden. Both the tiny, long-legged adult flies and the larvae feed on more than 60 species of aphids by paralyzing their prey with toxic saliva.
The adult female of this species injects its eggs into host insects, including caterpillars, moths, beetle larvae, and aphids. The larvae then feed inside their hosts and the host dies once the larvae have completed development. Grow nectar plants with small flowers such as dill, parsley, wild carrot, and yarrow to bring them to your garden.
Damsel bugs feed on aphids, small caterpillars, leafhoppers, thrips, and other pesky pests. Collect damsel bugs from alfalfa fields using a sweep net, and then release them in and around your vegetable garden.
The nocturnal ground beetle is a voracious predator of slugs, snails, cutworms, cabbage maggots, and other pests that live in your garden’s soil. One beetle larva alone can eat more than 50 caterpillars. Plant perennials among garden plants for stable habitats, or white clover as a groundcover in orchards.
Both adult lacewings and their larvae eat aphids, caterpillars, mealybugs, scales, thrips, and whiteflies. Angelica, coreopsis, cosmos, and sweet alyssum will bring lacewings to your garden.
Adult lady beetles eat aphids, mites, and mealybugs — and their hungry larvae do even more damage to garden pests. Plant angelica, coreopsis, dill, fennel, and yarrow to attract them.
Minute Pirate Bugs
The quick-moving, black-and-white minute pirate bugs will attack almost any insect. Goldenrods, daisies, alfalfa, and yarrow will attract these helpful bugs.
The soldier beetle feeds on aphids and caterpillars, as well as other insects — including harmless and beneficial species. Attract this flying insect by planting catnip, goldenrod, and hydrangea.
Spined Soldier Bug
The spined soldier bug’s pointed “shoulders” distinguish it from the peskier stink bug. Plant permanent beds of perennials to provide shelter for this predator of hairless caterpillars and beetle larvae.
The tachinid fly larvae burrow their way into many caterpillars, destroying these garden pests from the inside. Plant dill, parsley, sweet clover, and other herbs to attract adult flies.