Attracting Beneficial Insects to your Garden

Question: What are beneficial insects and how can I attract them to my vegetable garden?

Beneficial insects are the preferred insects that benefit our gardens. There are four types of beneficial insects: predatory, parasitoid, decomposer, and pollinator. Predatory insects feed on their insect prey and parasitoids lay their eggs inside their insect prey for their larvae to feed on. Decomposers aid in the decomposition of dead organisms and pollinators (bees, butterflies, and flies) are critical to the reproductive cycle of flowering plants, including food crop production.

We can attract these helpful creatures to our vegetable garden by providing food, water, and shelter. Many adult insect predators and parasitoids feed on nectar and pollen, in addition to pest insects, so it is important to scatter annual and perennial flowers throughout the garden, as insectary plants (plants grown to attract, feed, and shelter beneficial insects). Keep a few clay saucers filled with pebbles and water. Mulch or leaves can provide hiding places for these beneficial pests.

Keep in mind that using any kind of insecticide, even natural botanical insecticides, can kill beneficial insects as well as insect pests. Explore more on this topic here.

References:

Encouraging Beneficial Insects in Your Garden,” Gredler, Gail. Yamhill County, Oregon State University.

Meet the Beneficials: Natural enemies of Garden Pests,” University of California.

Beneficial Insects – Nature’s Pest Control,” Insect Diagnostic Laboratory, Cornell University.

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