Bugs! Don’t you hate ’em? Well, don’t be too quick! Insects may all look icky to you but some are very beneficial to your garden’s health. By that I mean that many of those bugs actually kill harmful insects that want to eat breakfast, lunch and supper in your vegetable garden.
There are three different ways beneficial insects help: Some pollinate, like honey bees. Some are predator insect and eat other pest insects, like lady bugs and assassin bugs. Some actually are parasites on the bad insects, using their eggs or bodies as incubators for their young. Here is a list of many beneficial insects for your garden and how you can encourage them.Attract and Encourage Beneficial Insects
There are several things you can do to assure the best environment for these helpful insects to thrive around your plants.
Use no pesticides in or around your garden and by that I mean no pesticides, not even the organic ones.
Plan your garden area to be surrounded by blooms as close to year round as possible. You see most beneficial bugs love nectar and pollen to dine on so encourage their stay by, as much as possible, keeping something blooming for them to eat. Yes, up in the cold northern climes, this is going to be more difficult than the sunny south but even there you can plan to keep blooms going when at all possible. Early blooming plants for your area should be included in your plantings.
Set up a proper environment for these helpful insects to live in. Permanent plantings of perennial plants, grasses, trees and shrubs, perennial flowering plants as well as annuals all planted together makes a great habitat for year round shelter. Straw, leaf litter and plant litter on the ground makes more protective hiding places for insects. These sheltered habitats allow better protection from the elements as well as nesting areas. A bare garden area leaves no protected areas for beneficial insects to live.
The most helpful flowers you can plant to encourage useful insects are the ones that have flat tops, spikes of little flowers and flowers resembling daisies. These flowers are the most accessible for the good insects to reach the pollen and nectar. Among the desired plants are herbs like thyme, mint, lavender, dill, fennel and parsley. Flowering plants to consider are daisies, asters, sunflowers and zinnias. There are many great choices and knowing your particular growing zone will play a big part in choosing what flowering plants to grow. Like I mentioned earlier, plan on having some sort of flat top, spike or daisy-like flowers blooming from earliest spring on through to absolute cold weather sets back in.
Continue to page 2 to learn about desirable insects!