good garden bugs:  the 10 most wanted

These bugs are good garden bugs; they're bugs you want to have in your garden.

What's that you say? No such thing as a good bug?

The only good bug is a dead bug? 

Shame on you! Good bugs eat bad bugs.

So if you kill off the good bugs, you're going to have twice as many bad bugs on your hands (and your plants).

Here are the top 10 good garden bugs you'll want to make feel at home in your backyard.

Roll Out the Welcome Mat for These Good Garden Bugs

  1   Earthworms

Earthworms aerate the soil by tunneling through it as part of their everyday routine.

These tunnels allow air and moisture to pass easily through the soil, creating a healthy environment for plants to grow.

These creatures don't stop there: After digestion, earthworms produce excrement about the size of a pin head that improves the properties of the soil, such as porosity and moisture retention, and helps in the fight against pests and diseases. 

  2   Pillbugs

Pillbugs actually aren't bugs at all: they're land-based crustaceans. These creatures are the best kind of scavengers, as they feed on dead or decaying matter. They return nutrients to the soil when they defecate. They are a helpful addition to your garden because they circulate the soil without eating plants.

  3   Dung Beetles

Dung beetles are small, dark-colored beetles that are usually shiny, brown or black and sometimes have a metallic blue or purple luster.

They benefit your garden by feeding on and disposing of fungi, decaying organic matter, dung and other organic materials. (Hence the name.)

They're extremely important in the natural cycle of the breakdown of organic matter in the soil.

  4   Bumble Bees

Bumble bees are friendlier than honeybees, and only sting if they've been really molested or roughly handled. They don't swarm, like honeybees, nor attack like wasps. They're important pollinators of plants and vegetables because they have longer tongues so they can pollinate plants with deep flowers. 

  5   Praying Mantises

In the world of biological pest control weapons, praying mantises are the howitzer cannons.

They're among the few nocturnal hunters able to catch and eat moths.

You want this guy hanging out around your plants. Although moths themselves aren't garden pests, their larvae can decimate an entire plant in a matter of days.

Did I mention they come with a delightful added benefit built in? They love to eat roaches.

  6   Lacewings

Lacewing larvae prey on aphids, leafhoppers, mites, psyllids, thrips, whiteflies and the eggs of insects.

The larvae's huge appetites makes them a very important player in the pest control arena if your backyard plants include flowers, fruits, or vegetables.

You can attract these beneficial bugs with wildflower plants and pollen-producing flowers.

  7   Ladybugs

Ladybugs control pests that pester your plants. Definitely a bug you want to have around. They are capable of consuming up to 60 aphids per day, but will also eat a variety of other bad bugs and larvae including mealy bugs, leaf hoppers, mites, and various types of soft-bodied insects.

They may be white, yellow, pink, orange, red or black, and usually have spots.

  8   Braconid Wasps

Braconid wasps are parasitoids: parasites that usually kill their hosts. And, they like to feed on the bad bugs we don't like on our plants: hornworms, caterpillars, aphids, squash bugs and stink bugs.

The Braconidae family of bugs consider these to be gourmet delicacies.

  9   Butterflies

Butterflies are pretty to look at. But they are much more than a pretty face to your plants.

When an adult butterfly lands on a flower to suck some delicious nectar through its proboscis, it accidentally gathers pollen on its body.

The butterfly rubs some of the pollen on the next flower it moves to and collects some more. Pollination allows plants to reproduce by producing seeds.

  10   Wasps

Wasps are beneficial predators. They hunt insects such as white flies and aphids. They kill caterpillars. For many, wasps are seen as a threat and even a nuisance, but they perform vital roles in the garden eco-system.

As a natural form of pest control, they are a gardener's friend, taking crop-eating insects to feed to their young. They also pollinate flowers and other plants. 

So do what you can to welcome them into your garden, and you're sure to enjoy the blossoming results!

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