Knowing how to attract beneficial insects to your garden can make or break your harvest. I am an avid food gardener and every year my back yard gardens hold a variety of fruits, veggies and herbs that I can feed my family. The first step is to plant in rich soil that is as natural and organic as I can find. I water regularly and inspect my plants frequently for problems. But, no matter how vigilant I am about growing healthy plants, the truth of the matter is that without beneficial insects, I will have very little harvest come summer! Insects are incredibly important for edible gardening and there are a lot of things we can do to ensure that the BENEFICIAL ones take up residence in our yards. If you are an avid gardener like I am, here are a few tips you might find handy for bringing beneficial insects into your backyard habitat.
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What are beneficial insects?
Beneficial insects are basically any species of insect that performs a valued service. This includes not only pollination but also pest control of the insects you DON’T want in your yard. Popular beneficial insects include the lady bug, praying mantis, honey bees, and a number of others. Check out the list of beneficial insects on Ask.com for a few cool pictures of the bugs you want to keep in your garden!
How to Attract Beneficial Insects:
Provide a water source:
Bugs, like most other creatures, need water. They prefer small stagnant puddles or very shallow dishes of water. Use old flower pot bases to provide a source of water for them to drink out of. Plant a honeybee watering station for them to drink out of.
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Plant the right plants:
You want an array of brightly colored flowers that bloom throughout the growing season. Check out OrganicGardening.com for a list of plants that attract beneficial insects.
Avoid pesticides of any sort.
Even natural pesticides will kill off beneficial insects in the garden so use caution when spraying them.
You might notice an upswing in the overall ‘bad bug’ numbers when you first get started. Be patient! The beneficial insects will come along as soon as they realize your yard provides a plethora of tasty things to eat. Soon, you will have lots of beneficial insects that will keep the pest bugs under control.
Leave them places to overwinter:
Leave some leaf and plant material on the ground over the winter to improve habitat and give them space to hunker down before emerging again in the spring. If they have to leave your yard to hibernate it will take them longer to find you again come spring.
Beneficial Insects Means More Than Just Bees!
If you encourage the beneficial insects to take up residence in your yard you will have a healthier garden and a more abundant crop to harvest come summer. If you would like to encourage butterflies to come live in your yard, check out my recent post on how to plant a butterfly garden! Butterflies are not only a beneficial insect but they are absolutely beautiful to watch!
Do you have advice on how to attract beneficial insects?
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.