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Beneficial Bugs - Which Pests Are Actually Helpful?

Monarch butterfly sitting on flower

It can be hard to tell which bugs are helpful and which are threatening to your plants. This in-depth guide explores all the different types of bugs you may have never realized were doing so much for your garden.

Lady Bugs:

These red and black dotted critters are not only cute to look at, but they can also help eliminate annoying pests from your garden. Ladybugs feed on aphids, mites, and mealybugs all of which can wreak havoc on plants. To attract these adorable little guys plant herbs such as dill, fennel, cilantro or chives. They also like yellow or white flowers such as marigolds, dandelions, and sweet alyssum.

Spiders:

While these creepy crawlers are not the most pleasant to have hanging around, they can be helpful! Many different types of spiders including Black and Yellow Garden spiders, Black Tail Crab spiders, Cross spiders, and Arboreal Orb Weaver spiders all enjoy a diet of garden pests. Although it may be tempting to knock these scary looking creatures down, it may be in your garden’s best interest to leave them be.

Bees:

So what’s the deal with bees? We are all familiar with these yellow and black flying insects for their painful stings, so what’s all the fuss about? There are many different types of bees, two of the most common being bumblebees and carpenter bees, but all bees are expert pollinators. These little insects are directly linked to the global food supply due to their impressive pollinating habits, so it is extremely important not to hurt them. Bees are one of the most helpful insects to have around your green space, but if you find a hive that is a little too close for comfort call a professional to have them safely relocated.

Butterflies:

These beautiful insects are kind of like a double-edged sword. When this bug is in adolescence as a caterpillar, it will eat its way straight through your garden. However, once it matures into a butterfly, these insects are great pollinators and some species even feed on pests. Don’t stress if you see butterflies in your garden but keep an eye out for growing caterpillar populations!

Fireflies:

Fireflies are known for their luminescent quality but did you know they are also helpful garden insects? Firefly larvae enjoy eating slugs and snails, both of which are annoying pests to have around. Not only are they gross and slimy but they also eat plant tissue and seedlings. So put the salt away, and let the lightning bugs take care of business!

Beetles:

There are many different types of beetles so it can be difficult to determine which ones you should leave be and which ones you should try to squash with your shoe. Predatory beetles are the primary type that you should welcome into your yard as they eat a number of different pests. Some common predatory beetles include ground beetles, blister beetles, and rove beetles all of which are small and black. Ground beetles like to feast on caterpillars, slugs, and snails, while blister beetles are interested in soft-bodied insects such as grubs. Rove beetles differ a little in that they enjoy mites, maggots, and other small bugs. You can find most of these beetles wherever there is grass or other low growing vegetation.

Now that you know which types of insects are beneficial to your space you should think twice before spraying insecticides! A lawn care or pest control specialist can help you identify which pests need to be treated and can advise you on the most effective solutions. Your yard can be healthy and lush with a little bit of expert knowledge and some help from a few friendly insects!

Still not sure what critters to look out for?

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