10 Insects You Want Around Plants

Here's how to attract these little helpers to your garden.

December 8, 2011

Aphid Midge

The larvae of this tiny, long-legged fly feed on more than 60 species of aphids by paralyzing their prey with toxic saliva. Pollen plants will bring aphid midges to your garden.  


Photo credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org



Braconid Wasps

The adult female of the species injects its eggs into host insects. The larvae then feed inside their hosts, which include moth and beetle larvae and aphids. 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.


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 around your site.

Photo credit: Frank Peairs, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

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.  



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.  

Photo credit: Frank Peairs, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org


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 Bugs

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

Photo credit: Bradley Higbee, Paramount Farming, Bugwood.org



Soldier Beetles

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

Photo credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org



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.  

Photo credit: Russ Ottens, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org



Tachinid Flies

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.

Photo credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Learn more about how to attract beneficial insects to the garden.

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