Organic Pest Control: Beneficial Insects and the Plants that Attract Them

Organic Pest Control: Beneficial Insects and the Plants that Attract Them

One way of getting rid of pests in the garden is to attract beneficial insects. How to attract beneficial insects? The best way to attract beneficial insects is by planting flowers that are rich in pollen and nectar. Beneficial insects help your garden grow by controlling pests and pollinating your plants.

Here is a list of some beneficial insects in the garden.

Ground beetles

Ground beetles are large insects that have long legs and you can find them under rocks and logs during the day. These beneficial insects eat Colorado potato beetle larvae, cutworms, root maggots, snails, and slugs. To attract ground beetles you have to provide them with stones, logs, or perennial ground covers. [Image Source]

Hover flies

Hover flies are also known as Flower flies or Syrphid flies. The adult hover flies have striped abdomens and they look like a small bee, while the greenish or grayish slug-like hover fly larvae have pointed heads. These beneficial insects are attracted to flowers and they feed on the flower nectar and pollen. The hover fly larvae are very helpful in early spring; they eat aphids that are on tight places where other beneficial insects can’t go.

Strawberries and raspberries that are pollinated by hover flies produce larger fruits and higher yields. [Image Source]

Hunting and parasitic wasps

You can find hundreds of wasp species around the globe, there are wasps that are too small that they are almost invisible to the naked eye. These small wasps are the ones that attack the eggs of insect pests. These parasitic wasps are also among the most important insects when it comes to controlling pests in the garden. Grow pollen and nectar plants to attract these beneficial insects. [Image Source]

Ladybugs

Ladybugs are one of the most common beneficial insects that you can find in the garden. The adult lady bugs and larvae eat aphids that destroy plants like tomatoes and brassicas; they also eat soft-bodied insects. The nectar and pollen of a flower is attractive to adult lady bugs, they eat these before they can reproduce. [Image Source]

Lacewings

The adult pale green or brown lacewings have large, veined wings. These insects usually eat the nectar or a flower. The lacewing larvae are a voracious predator that eats aphid, caterpillars, mites, moth eggs, scales, and thrips. [Image Source]

Predatory Bugs

Predatory bugs such as ambush bugs, assassin bugs, and pirate bugs eat insects like tomato hornworms, thrips, spider mites, insect eggs, leafhopper nymphs, corn earworms, and other small caterpillars. Willows, buckwheat, corn, and nectar and pollen of many flowers are attractive to pirate bugs. Bunch grasses, shrubs, and other permanent plantings are attractive to predatory bugs. These plants provide shelter to these predatory bugs. [Assassin Bug Image Source]

Spiders

Spiders eat a lot of insects, which make them a very helpful insect when it comes to controlling pests in the garden. Spiders that are found in the garden do not move indoors and they are not poisonous.

You can find spiders sheltering on permanent perennial plants and straw mulches. [Image Source]

Tachinid flies

Tachinid flies are similar in appearance with house flies. These beneficial insects eat army worms, cutworms, cabbage loopers, gypsy moths, Japanese beetles, sawflies, squash bugs, sow bugs, and tent caterpillars. They are attracted to pollen and nectar plants. [Image Source]

And here are the plants that attract beneficial insects which you can start planting in your garden – if you haven’t done so yet.

Annual Plants

Alyssum ‘Carpet of Snow’

These masses of tiny flowers can attract hoverflies and parasitic mini-wasps.

Basil

This herb has flowers that can attract bees and other beneficial insects. It can also repel aphids and tomato hornworms.

Calendula

This flower can attract bees and hoverflies.

Cornflower

This flower can attract a lot of beneficial insects such as bees, lacewings, ladybugs, hoverflies and parasitic wasps.

Cosmos

Lacewings, hoverflies, and parasitic wasps are all attracted to this flower.

Dill

The flower of this herb can attract ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies and parasitic mini-wasps. You can also use to as a trap crop for aphids.

Marigold

Marigold attracts bees and hoverflies. The roots of this flower produce a secretion that can kill root-eating nematodes in the soil. The flower petals of Marigold are edible.

Morning Glory

Plant Morning Glory to attract syrphid flies and ladybugs.

Nigella

This plant is a quick-blooming and self-sowing annual that can attract bees. The seeds of Nigella damascena and Nigella sativa are edible.

Snapdragon

This flower is best for attracting bumblebees.

Zinnia

Zinnia flowers can attract bees, ladybugs, hoverflies, parasitic wasps and other beneficial insects.

Perennial Plants

Agastachefoeniculum

The flowers of this herb are attractive to bees and other beneficial insects. This herb blooms the first year from seed; you can use its leaves to make a tea.

Alyssum saxatile

Also known as the ‘Basket of Gold’ because of its bright yellow flowers that bloom in May. This is also a good source of food for ladybugs and hoverflies.

Bronze Fennel

The leaves and seeds of this plant are edible. This plant can attract a lot of beneficial insects such as bees, hoverflies, lacewings, ladybugs, syrphid flies, tachinid flies, and parasitic wasps.

Common Chives

The flowers of this plant are attractive to bees, hoverflies, and parasitic wasps. You can add the leaves and flowers to your recipes.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea)

Praying mantis, bees, and parasitic wasps are all attracted to the flowers of this plant, while birds are attracted to the seed heads.

Feverfew

This herb has white daisy-like flowers that are attractive to hoverflies. You can use this herb to treat migraine and headaches.

Garlic Chives

This plant attracts bees and other beneficial insects. The leaves of this plant have a strong garlic odor that repels aphids. This is also a good companion plant for roses.

Goldenrod

This plant attracts assassin bugs, big-eyed bugs, bees, ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies, praying mantis, and parasitic wasps. Plant this from late summer to fall.

HesperisMatronalis (Dame’s Rocket)

The flowers of this plant attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. You can add the young leaves to for dishes.

Lavender ‘Lady’ (LavandulaAngustifolia)

Hoverflies and bees are attracted to its flowers.

Lemon Balm

The leaves of this plant have a lemon flavor, which you can use for making tea. Tachinid flies, hoverflies, and parasitic mini-wasps are attracted to its small flowers.

Parsley

The flowers of this herb are attractive to beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies, tachinid flies, and parasitic mini-wasps.

PenstemonStrictus (Rocky Mountain Penstemon)

Its vivid blue flowers attract ladybugs, bees, and hoverflies.

Black-Eyed Susan (RudbeckiaHirta)

This plant has daisy-like flowers with a golden-yellow color that are attractive to bees and lacewings.

Salvia

Salvia attracts pollinators such as hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.

Thyme

The tiny flowers of thyme are attractive to hoverflies.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thanks for sharing this, there are a few here I hadn’t thought of. I love the idea of ‘two for one’ plants that both pollinators and people love, like flowering herbs and vegetables. Great list!

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