10 Insects You Should Actually Want Around Your Plants

Defend your garden against harmful creepy crawlies by attracting these helpful critters to your plot.

May 11, 2016
aphid midge larvae
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Photograph by corlaffra/Shutterstock
Aphid Midge

Pollen plants will bring aphid midges to your garden. To combat the midges, Identify + Encourage These Beneficial Insects, including the larvae of this tiny, long-legged fly that feed on more than 60 species of aphids by paralyzing their prey with toxic saliva.  

braconid wasp
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Photograph by Stephen Bonk/Shutterstock
Braconid Wasps

The adult female of this species injects its eggs into host insects, including caterpillars, moths, beetle larvae, and aphids. The larvae then feed inside their hosts, and the host dies once the larvae have completed development. Grow nectar plants with small flowers, such as dill, parsley, wild carrot, and yarrow, to bring them to your garden.

Related: How To Plant Carrots

damsel bug
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Photograph by Marek Velechovsky/Shutterstock
Damsel Bugs

Damsel bugs feed on aphids, small caterpillars, leafhoppers, thrips, and other pesky pests. Collect damsel bugs from alfalfa fields using a sweep net, and then release them in and around your vegetable garden.

ground beetle
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Photograph by Marek R Swadzba/Shutterstock
Ground Beetles

The nocturnal ground beetle is a voracious predator of slugs, snails, cutworms, cabbage maggots, and other pests that live in your garden’s soil—one beetle larva can eat more than 50 caterpillars. Plant perennials among garden plants for stable habitats, or white clover as a groundcover in orchards.

lacewing
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Photograph by Roger Meerts/Shutterstock
Lacewings

Both adult lacewings and their larvae eat aphids, caterpillars, mealybugs, scales, thrips, and whiteflies. Angelica, coreopsis, cosmos, and sweet alyssum will bring lacewings to your garden.

Related: 14 Nontoxic Ways To Keep Pests Out

lady beetle
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Photograph by yanikap/Shutterstock
Lady Beetles

Adult lady beetles eat aphids, mites, and mealybugs, and their hungry larvae do even more damage to garden pests. Plant angelica, coreopsis, dill, fennel, and yarrow to attract them.

minute pirate bug
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Photograph by Protasov AN/Shutterstock
Minute Pirate Bugs

The quick-moving, black-and-white minute pirate bugs will attack almost any insect. Goldenrods, daisies, alfalfa, and yarrow will attract these helpful bugs.

soldier beetle
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Photograph by Suede Chen/Shutterstock
Soldier Beetles

The soldier beetle feeds on aphids and caterpillars, as well as other insects—including harmless and beneficial species. Attract this flying insect by planting catnip, goldenrod, and hydrangea.

Related: 8 Plants That Repel Mosquitos Naturally

spined soldier bug
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Photograph by Pavelk/Shutterstock
Spined Soldier Bug

The spined soldier bug’s pointed “shoulders” distinguish it from the peskier stink bug. Plant permanent beds of perennials to provide shelter for this predator of hairless caterpillars and beetle larvae.

tachinid fly
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Photograph by Bruce MacQueen/Shutterstock
Tachinid Flies

Showcased as one of the Amazing Pictures Of Bugs That Benefit The Whole Ecosystem, the tachinid fly larvae burrow their way into many caterpillars, destroying these garden pests from the inside. Plant dill, parsley, sweet clover, and other herbs to attract adult flies.

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