You can’t talk about gardening without talking about bugs. There are a lot of bugs that will destroy a garden if you let them. Aphids, whiteflies, cabbage worms – I could list plenty. What we don’t talk about very much, however, are some of the common garden bugs that are beneficial to our plants.
Bees, of course, are the superstars. That’s probably fair, given that they pollinate so many of the world’s food crops. But there are other bugs that should be superstars, too. Some of them are pollinators, others eat pests, or in one case, they lay their eggs on pests where they will hatch and eat the plant-destroying bugs. Sounds gross, but it’s effective.
10 Common garden bugs you need in your garden
1. Spiders. Okay, technically these are arachnids and not insects, but darn if they don’t do some serious work in keeping your garden free of pests.
2. Lady beetle. The lady beetle, or ladybug, might be the most popular of common garden bugs. They are cute. They’re also deadly. Not to us humans, but watch out if you’re an aphid. The ladybug larvae can eat dozens of aphids every hour.
3. Green lacewings. These delicate-looking bugs are fierce predators. They feast on aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
4. Ground beetle. These common garden bugs aren’t just one bug. There are tens of thousands of species of ground beetles worldwide (a bit over 2,000 in the U.S.). They happen to be super beneficial for your garden, too, making a meal of aphids, mites, root maggots, even slugs and snails.
5. Parasitic wasps. There are a few species of these wasps, but the end result in your garden is the same. They lay their eggs in or on cutworms, caterpillars, aphids, tomato hornworms, cabbage worms, aphids, and more. The little baby wasps then hatch and eat their host. I could be wrong, but I bet when Ridley Scott was directing Alien, he was thinking about these common garden bugs.
6. Worms. Not all beneficial bugs in the garden are predators. Worms can do wonders for your soil, keeping it aerated and healthy. They break down organic material and turn it into nutrient-rich soil.
10. Praying mantis. The fearsome mantis is a stone-cold killer. If it moves in your garden, the mantis will destroy it. The mantis can slowly stalk prey or move fast enough to catch flies. While they do eat pests like moths, flies, mosquitos, and aphids, they also eat other beneficial insects like beetles. Fun fact: They’ve also been known to catch and eat hummingbirds.
These aren’t the only bugs that bring benefits to your garden, but they are some of the most common. You can find many of these in a healthy ecosystem. Just stand back if you see a mantis heading your way!
Do you have a favorite beneficial bug in your garden? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.