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Lawn & Garden

Beneficial Insects and Plants That Attract Them


Insects that can help out in our garden are many, but we will need to be sure to have the correct plants in our yard that will attract them.  Home gardeners need to exercise caution when battling the bad insects that start to invade our flower, shrub and vegetable gardens.  Mother Nature has blessed us with some “Good Bugs” whose whole diet will be that of the bad bugs that want to attack our flowers and vegetables.

 

The first source of defense that most home gardeners reach for is a bug killer.  Although this may be a way effectively dealing with the “Bad Bugs”, this type of treatment does not discern between good or bad bugs.  It just kills all bugs, both good and bad.  Effective yes, but detrimental to those bugs that have been put here to help us. 

 

To help prevent the killing of the good along with the bad, avoid using a broad spectrum pesticide especially those that have been formulated from pyrethroids and organophosphates.  There are safer alternatives such as horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps and those products that are designed to go after a specific pest such as Bacillus thuringiensis, which is a bactericide that attacks the tomato hornworms.

 

There is a great deal of information available on beneficial predatory insects.  All you need to do is take the time to do a little research.  There is a great book from the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources called "The Natural Enemies Handbook"

 

Mother Nature has been battling the bad insects long before we ever populated the earth and doing a better job at it most of the time.  As home gardeners, we are tasked with “Helping Out” Mother Nature a bit.  It is our job to put in plants that will attract the Good Bugs whose primary job is to pollinate our gardens and kill off the Bad Bugs!

 

It does take a bit more effort on our part as home gardeners to search out plants that will attract these beneficial insects but in the long run, we are not only helping our immediate surroundings by not applying chemicals to our environment but we are providing a healthier place to live for our children, pets and the animals we share our space with as well. 

 

LACEWINGS


 


Have you ever notice a delicate looking little green insect that seems to be attracted to your lighted windows and screens during the spring and summer evenings?  These are most likely Lacewings. You can help to provide a healthy environment for this predatory insect by planting:

 

Achillea filipendulina Fern-leaf yarrow

 

Anethum graveolens Dill

 

Angelica gigas Angelica

 

Anthemis tinctoria Golden marguerite

 

Atriplex canescens Four-wing saltbush

 

Callirhoe involucrata Purple poppy mallow

 

Carum Carvi Caraway

 

Coriandrum sativum Coriander

 

Cosmos bipinnatus Cosmos white sensation

 

Daucus Carota Queen Anne's lace

 

Foeniculum vulgare Fennel

 

Helianthus maximilianii Prairie sunflower

 

Tanacetum vulgare Tansy

 

Taraxacum officinale Dandelion

 

 

LADYBUGS


 



One of the most easy to recognize bugs even for adults to identify is the Lady Bug.  This beautiful orange with black spots predator can be found all over your yard searching for a tasty munchies, providing you have not bathed your yard in a broad spectrum insecticide in an attempt to rid your garden of pesky aphids.

 

Although the adult Lady Bug may be easy to identify, the young larvae look completely different.  These little black and orange baby predators will eat more pests that the adults as they grow and mature into adult Lady Bugs.  These little ones cannot fly however and can be found in clusters of little   yellow eggs on the undersides of leaves, laid there by their adult parents.

 

If you would like to attract Lady Bugs, be sure to plant:

 

Achillea filipendulina Fern-leaf yarrow

 

Achillea millefolium Common yarrow

 

Ajuga reptans Carpet bugleweed

 

Alyssum saxatilis Basket of Gold

 

Anethum graveolens Dill

 

Anthemis tinctoria Golden marguerite

 

Asclepias tuberosa Butterfly weed

 

Atriplex canescens Four-wing saltbush

 

Coriandrum sativum Coriander

 

Daucus Carota Queen Anne's lace

 

Fagopyrum esculentum Buckwheat

 

Foeniculum vulgare Fennel

 

Helianthus maximilianii Prairie sunflower

 

Penstemon strictus Rocky Mt. penstemon

 

Potentilla recta 'warrenii' Sulfur cinquefoil

 

Potentilla villosa Alpine cinquefoil

 

Tagetes tenuifolia Marigold - lemon gem

 

Tanacetum vulgare Tansy

 

Taraxacum officinale Dandelion

 

Veronica spicata Spike speedwell

 

Vicia villosa Hairy vetch

 


HOVERFLIES


Image result for hoverflies images                                                  



Many people want to swat this little guy out of fear that they are going to get stung, but your fear is mislaid!  Hoverflies, although they look like bees, they do not sting.  They are fast though and will dart away quickly to avoid your swatting at them.  All this little predator wants to do is to lay its white, oval eggs on leaves so that they can hatch into hungry little baby syrphids. They can be yellow, brown, orange or white little maggots look like caterpillars but will raise up on their little hind quarters so they can catch and feed on aphids, mealy bugs and many other garden pests.


Plants that attract hoverflies:

 

 Achillea filipendulina Fern-leaf yarrow

 

Achillea millefolium Common yarrow

 

Ajuga reptans Carpet bugleweed

 

Allium tanguticum Lavender globe lily

 

Alyssum saxatilis Basket of Gold

 

Anethum graveolens Dill

 

Anthemis tinctoria Golden marguerite

 

Aster alpinus Dwarf alpine aster

 

Astrantia major Masterwort

 

Atriplex canescens Four-wing saltbush

 

Callirhoe involucrata Purple poppy mallow

 

Carum Carvi Caraway

 

Chrysanthemum parthenium Feverfew

 

Coriandrum sativum Coriander

 

Cosmos bipinnatus Cosmos white sensation

 

Daucus Carota Queen Anne's lace

 

Fagopyrum esculentum Buckwheat

 

Foeniculum vulgare Fennel

 

Lavandula angustifolia English lavender

 

Limnanthes douglasii Poached egg plant

 

Limonium latifolium Statice

 

Linaria vulgaris Butter and eggs

 

Lobelia erinus Edging lobelia

 

Lobularia maritima Sweet alyssum - white

 

Melissa officinalis Lemon balm

 

Mentha pulegium Pennyroyal

 

Mentha spicata Spearmint

 

Monarda fistulosa Wild bergamot

 

Penstemon strictus Rocky Mt. penstemon

 

Petroselinum crispum Parsley

 

Potentilla recta 'warrenii' Sulfur cinquefoil

 

Potentilla villosa Alpine cinquefoil

 

Rudbeckia fulgida Gloriosa daisy

 

Sedum kamtschaticum Orange stonecrop

 

Sedum spurium & album Stonecrops

 

Solidago virgaurea Peter Pan goldenrod

 

Stachys officinalis Wood betony

 

Tagetes tenuifolia Marigold - lemon gem

 

Thymus serpylum coccineus Crimson thyme

 

Veronica spicata Spike speedwell


Zinnia elegans Zinnia – liliput

 

 

PARASITIC MINI-WASPS


                                   


 

Mini-Wasps are indeed little parasites.  They do not sting and their little stinger is adapted to lays its eggs inside its intended victim.  As the eggs hatch, the young will feed on the insides of the pest and leave them a hollow shell, killing them and leaving behind an empty carcass. 


                                                 

 

The Braconid wasps will feed on a moth, beetle, fly larvae, moth eggs and a variety of insect pupae as well as adults.  If you happen to see caterpillars in your garden with lots of little white capsules on their backs, they are victims of the Braconid wasp.  The cocoons that are attached to the caterpillar will provide food for the wasp larvae and eventually kill the caterpillar.


 

Ichneumonid wasps will control moth, butterfly, beetle and fly larvae and pupae.



Part 2 >>>


 

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