They let 72,000 ladybugs loose in the Mall of America! That was a pretty good idea. We let about 300 loose in our own backyard last weekend. After all, insects are an inevitable presence in any garden. Some are beneficial insects that will protect crops. A successful garden is a place where the harmful and beneficial insects live together in harmony. Often, however, imbalances caused by pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals lead to an uncontrolled occurrence of pests and these are the problems faced by many gardeners. [photo via flickr]
To restore balance, it is important to arrange an organic garden designed to attract beneficial insects that will destroy the pests and contribute to the development of plants. If you do not have the time, patience or do not want to cultivate certain plants that attract beneficial insects, you can always buy them and restore your garden’s natural balance. Beneficial insects may play one of two possible roles: pollinators and predators. The first category contributes to the pollination of flowers, while the insects in the second category aim at pest control, feeding on other insects. Here’s a list of some of the most important insects, their role in the garden and plants they are drawn to:
These are well known pollinators that will make their presence known in your garden if you plant flowers and vegetables such as cornflowers, lavender, Echinacea, sunflowers, onions etc.
Ladybugs protect your plants from pests and common aphids, mites and lice woolly. Invite them into your garden by planting beans, dill, carrots, peas, etc.. How about flowers? Ladybugs are attracted to daisies, yarrow, Calendula, dandelions.
Belonging to the Cantharidae family, this beneficial insect feeds on a variety of pests in the garden, regardless of their stage (eggs, larvae). Thus, the “menu” consists of aphids, mites, Colorado beetle, cucumber beetle, cabbage butterflies, butterfly larvae, grasshoppers eggs and more. Allow them to find their place in your garden by choosing plants of the family Asteraceae.
Family Chrysopidae, order Neuroptera includes small green insects. Adult insects feed on pollen and nectar, and the larvae of Chrysopidae have an increased appetite for aphids. Chrysopidae can be kept in your garden after purchase using plants such as coriander, fennel, cosmos, daisies.
It’s part of the family Reduviidae and definitely deserves its name because it is cunning and manages to fool prey easily. The groups feed on a variety of pests from caterpillars to Colorado beetles.
Delicate, beneficial insects, dragonflies empty your garden of aphids, mosquitoes and flies. Make sure that your garden has a container with water, or maybe an artificial fountain or pond to keep the Dragonflies, and plant small patches of herbs like cumin to provide them an even better environment.
Even though it may sound awkward at first, parasitic wasps may be the best choice when buying insects to let loose in your garden. Belonging to the family Trichogramma, the parasitic wasp feeds on pests that attack fruit trees like apple, walnut and pear (peeling apple fruit worm, woolly lice etc.) To ensure their habitation in your garden, fill it with flowers and herbs such as crocuses, cosmos, cumin, coriander, yarrow, parsley, dill.
No matter what insects you choose to buy and let loose in your garden, remember that you are doing your surrounding environment a favor. Extensive building has caused many insect species to relocate or even disappear. Buying beneficial insects, which are usually more fragile than pests will help rebalance your garden and enhance its natural beauty.