Some people think of insects as being harmful to a garden. However, many common insects can actually help your plants proliferate. Attract good insects to your yard using these four techniques.
Farmscaping uses an ecological approach to attract beneficial organisms to your garden and stave off pests naturally rather than using harsh pesticides, which can kill both good and bad insects. To successfully farmscape, you need to identify the types of pests you have and use one or more techniques, such as planting insectary plants, creating a hedgerow, or building a water reservoir, to attract beneficial organisms and help them thrive in your garden.
Provide Year-Round Food for Good Bugs
If using insectary plants — those that attract insects — is ideal for your garden, you need to use a mix of annual and perennial plants to ensure that there’s a constant food source for beneficial insects. Otherwise, they’ll leave your garden when they can no longer be supported there. These are a few insectary plants you might consider and the helpful insects that they attract:
- Dill: Ladybugs, praying mantis, aphid midges, braconid wasps, green lacewings, tachinid flies, hoverflies, and mealybug destroyers.
- Clover: Ground beetles.
- Fennel: Damsel bugs, minute pirate bugs, and mealybug destroyers.
- Coriander: Green lacewings and tachinid flies.
- Parsley: Braconid wasps.
To learn which insectary plants you should use, you’ll need to consider what’s supported in your geographic area, what pests you’ll need to target, and which combination of plants will provide year-round sustenance for good insects. Plant a garden plot just as an insectary to attract these beneficial creatures.
Provide a Water Source
In addition to the right plants, you need to provide a water source to nourish your bug helpers. The animals will get some water from your daily garden maintenance, but you should also set aside a secondary source, such as a dish with rocks and some water. This will keep the insects from leaving your yard on dry days.
Provide Mulch and Stones for Ants and Beetles
Though not all ants and beetles are good for your yard, some — such as soldier beetles and ground beetles — hunt slugs, worms, and other beetles that can ruin a garden. Helpful ants also eat the eggs of harmful insects, among other benefits.
Though some species of ants you don’t want anywhere near your garden, others help your plants grow. For example, when you attract ants to your garden, they’ll create unground tunnels that allow air and moisture to reach the roots of your plants. Ants also disperse seeds, helping new plants grow, and will attract birds and lizards who will feast on the ants as well as harmful insects near your garden.
To attract good beetles and ants to your garden, give them room to create their homes on the ground. Mulch will attract beneficial beetles, and many good species of ants prefer to make their homes under rocks, wood, and other shaded areas.
Many insects can help grow your plants through pollination and by either eating pests or using them to proliferate more of the good bugs you need for your yard. Take advantage of the tips mentioned above to introduce helpful insects to your garden.