Attracting the right kinds of bugs to your garden will promote healthy development of your plants as well as naturally rid your garden of unwanted pests that damage plants. They also aid in pollination. Most people like to avoid using chemicals and pesticides, but find that natural pest repellants don’t always completely expel an infestation of detrimental pests. Using any kind of pest repellant also discourages good bugs from habitation of your garden. Attracting beneficial bugs to your garden requires a balance of the right kinds of plants and thoughtful design.
First, let’s discuss what insects and bugs are beneficial for your garden. Identification is key so you know which ones are desirable and which ones are problematic.
Lady Bugs: Prey on Aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
Ground Beetles: Prey on insect eggs, larvae, mites, and snails.
Lacewings: Prey on aphids, caterpillars, mealybugs, leafhoppers, insect eggs, and whiteflies.
Hover Flies: Their larvae mainly prey on aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
Predatory True Bugs (Pirate Bugs, Big-Eyed Bugs): Preys on aphids, thrips, mites, whiteflies, and insect eggs.
Parasitic Wasps: Prey mainly upon caterpillars
Bees: While not predatory, bees are extremely beneficial for pollination.
Next, we will mention the types of plants that are good for attracting the beneficial bugs. A diverse array of flowers and perennials are desirable, as well as some trees and shrubs.
Purple Poppy Mallow
Queen Anne's Lace
Four-wing Salt Bush
Finally, we will discuss how the arrangement and design of these plants will attract the beneficial bugs you want to inhabit your garden. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to select a diverse grouping of plants, as this will help attract and benefit the several types of advantageous bugs. You want these bugs to have good places to get food and find shelter, and diversity encourages this. Having plants that bloom year round and live through the winter will ensure that there is a continual source of food and shelter available. Some people suggest bordering your garden with the plants that these bugs like. Others suggest interspersing them in groupings within the garden. Experiment with what works best for you and suits your taste. Water is also essential. If water does not pool well in your garden, or dries up too fast, leave a small container filled with pebbles and water for the bugs. Good bugs do not like dust, so remember to keep the soil moist and covered with mulch as this provides cover for beetles and limits dust from accumulating. Also, leaving a few weeds around is good too. They provide balance and a place for insects to roam.