It goes without saying that there are many benefits to a having a garden. Flower and vegetable gardens offer a bounty of perks- from food production to peace of mind. If you look closely, however, you will notice an amazing ecosystem and a vast host of symbiotic relationships. Insects of all types will seek gardens as a place to eat, sleep and populate. It is advantageous for the average gardener to know which insects actually assist in the health of a garden. Many insects are needlessly sprayed with chemicals which will usually non-selectively kill many bugs; including the predatory beneficial insects, as well. Beneficial insects encourage a garden ecosystem to thrive to its greatest performance.
Beneficial insects aid by devouring and controlling the population of many harmful pests that could damage your prized plants. Ladybugs are a great example of a beneficial bug. They have a voracious appetite for aphids and tree lice. Harmful aphids can stunt growth and cause leaves to curl or turn yellow. Aphids also leave a sticky honeydew, which will typically turn into a black sooty mold fungus. Aphids are a common problem on roses and leafy greens. A helpful, natural way to control aphids is the introduction of ladybugs and lacewings. Of course, repeatedly hosing off aphid infested plants is recommended as well as introducing beneficial plants such as: fennel, yarrow, mint, dill and dandelions. Ants actually benefit from aphids, because they are inclined to feed off the honeydew that the aphids leave behind. So if we can control aphids it will also assist in attracting ants to our garden. Neem oil is also an effective organic pesticide that will control both the ants and aphids.
Ground beetles are another beneficial insect that survive on slugs, snails, grubs, and other insect larvae. Spiders, which are technically not insects, feed on many types of bugs, and will keep harmful insect population under control. Bees are highly beneficial and are also pollinators. Pollinators are necessary for fruit and flowering crop production. When it comes to the world of wasps, there are predatory and parasitic varieties. There are numerous varieties and detailed information about wasps that an entire blog could be written about the many complex differences. It is recommended to research the common varieties of predatory and parasitic wasps.
It is easier to know a good bug from an injurious one with the help of visual aid; so I’ve added a chart that you can refer to as you observe your garden ecology. May your gardening days be filled with wonder and education, and may you benefit from the verve of your garden!
By Jamie Sloane, Account Manager