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Attract Beneficial Insects to Your Garden

Updated on May 21, 2010

Beneficial Bugs

Certain insects, birds, and reptiles are beneficial for organically grown gardens, so we cleverly call them “beneficials”. Beneficials are vital if you intend to practice organic pest management. They keep the soil healthy and fertile, eat “bad” bugs, and maintain ecological balance in your garden - all without the harmful effects created by commercial pesticides. Here are some easy, fun and attractive ways to attract beneficials to your yard.

If you build it, they will come

Some people buy beneficials, like ladybugs, at the store to set free in their yards. If you have ever done this you were probably disappointed to find all the ladybugs gone within a few days. This is because you probably dumped between 2,500 to 20,000 ladybugs in a very small area, far more than can be sustained in most backyards. They quickly ate up the aphids, or whatever else you wanted to get rid of, and then moved on because there was nothing left to eat.

A much better plan is to attract ladybugs and numerous other beneficial insects, to your yard by planting flowers they like. I grow flowers around my vegetable garden for this purpose. Goldenrod, morning glory, and yarrow attract ladybugs. Aster-family plants, like daisies, beckon braconid wasps. Any kind of pollen-rich flower is perfect for summoning the honeybees, one of the gardener’s best friends. Also try marigolds, fennel, lemon balm, and marguerites to attract lacewings and hoverflies.

Attract Birds

A birdbath is a simple, but effective, way to entice birds to your yard. The birds get their daily cleaning and repay you for the convenience by eating a tremendous amount of pesky insects. You get the added enjoyment of watching their bathing antics. Another method is to provide nests on exterior rafters or other safe places. The birds set up housekeeping and repay you buy removing thousands of insect pests from your yard to feed their young.

Entice Toads

Toads love slugs and cutworms, and can happily devour about 3,000 a month. To do this they coincide their greatest activity at night, when the slugs and cutworms come out and you, most likely, are in bed asleep. Why not attract a toad or two for this important work? All they ask is some quiet privacy in a moist, dark, cool house. Toad houses are easy to build. Just prop up a board or some flat rocks in a corner of your garden. Add a little soaking pond by digging a 3-inch depression and lining it with rubber pond lining and then gravel or rocks. Keep the pond filled with water and you will have a toad in residence in no time.

See you in the garden!


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    • James L profile image

      James L 7 years ago from Canada

      I've also read that praying mantis' can be a beneficial insect to have in your garden. I think I'd prefer the lady bugs as you mention however haha.