Guest post by New York City PestControl
The introduction of predators and other species to control the pests in a garden is called biological pest control. As opposed to the health risks of chemicals, people needn’t worry about working with these biological agents.
Using biological means to control pests is not a new concept. Many of the gardeners know that ladybugs are very effective at getting rid of Aphids. There are many beneficial insects out there, but, they are not as famous as Ladybugs because some of them have daunting names like Trichogramma wasp. When people hear such names, they immediately come to a conclusion that they are bad pests.
You must have heard a lot about these so-called "beneficial insects", but, you would have had your doubts. So why don’t you attract them to your garden and see the results for yourself?
Here is a list of some of the most common beneficial insects which help to control pests
1. Minute Pirate Bugs
Minute pirate bugs are mostly seen on crops and its surrounding areas. These bugs feed on a variety of harmful bugs such as spider mites, insect eggs, aphids, thrips, and small caterpillars. They mainly feed on pollen and plant juices so to attract them you have to grow flowering shrubs.
Color: Black or dark purple with white markings
How to attract them? Grow marigold, cosmos, or fennel.
2. Assassin bugs
Assasins are known as the ninja bug because they are sneaky, swift and brutal. They prey on insects including flies, caterpillars, beetles, and mosquitoes. These bugs work round the clock and are seen on shrubs and little plants. Assassin bugs are found in woodland areas, along roads, and trails. Since these bugs move slowly, they are easy to spot. Assassin bugs will bite if they are disturbed. You don’t have to worry because their bite is not lethal but, they are painful.
Color: brown, green, or black
How to attract them? They stick to small flowering plants like Queen Anne's Lace, and varieties of daisy.
3. Damsel bugs
Damsel bugs will eat any insect that is smaller than them, even the beneficial ones. And sometimes when they can’t find food they will eat each other. They prey on aphids, caterpillars, spider mites, and treehoppers. Occasionally, they feed on leaves but, they won’t cause any harm to the plants. Commercial suppliers do not sell these bugs. So you have to grow certain varieties of plants to attract them.
Color- Tan, brown or gray
How to attract them? They are attracted to cosmos, fennel, spearmint, goldenrod and marigold
4. Trichogramma wasp
Trichogramma wasps are tiny insects that lay eggs inside the eggs of pests. Despite their size, they have the ability to destroy over 200 species of insects when they are at their larval stage. They prey on a wide variety of pest eggs including leaf worms, peach borers, squash borers, tomato hornworm, and bagworms.
Color: Yellow or dark yellow
How to attract them? Grow plants such as coriander, dandelion, dill, wild carrot, and yarrow
5. Tachinid fly
Tachinid flies look like small house flies, but some may be covered with thick dark hair. Adult flies help in the pollination process, and their larvae are voracious eaters of harmful pests. If you manage to attract these flies to your garden, they will help keep away destroying garden pests such as cabbage worms and gypsy moth, cutworms, earwigs, squash bugs, and tobacco budworms.
Color: Grey or black. Other small varieties may be bright orange, metallic blue, or green
How to attract them? They are very attracted to the varieties from the dill family. You can also grow fennel, parsley, and Queen Ann’s Lace.
6. Syrphid fly
They are also known as hover flies and look like small wasps. Just like the tachinids, adults help in pollination and the larvae consume all the pests. These flies keep your garden away from aphids, cabbage worms, mealybugs, and caterpillars.
Color: They are brightly colored and have brands of yellow or brown covering their bodies.
How to attract them? Hoverflies are active in any season. So plant a variety of flowers that are suitable for every season. Grow lavender, marigolds, mint, statice, sunflowers. Also, you can leave carrot and yarrow leaves between crops.
So if you can grow some extra flowering plants in your garden, you can attract these beneficial insects, and they will protect your garden. No chemicals needed!