Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Beneficials are insects that feed on common garden pests, like aphids and caterpillars. Less than 2 percent of the insects in the world are harmful, most are beneficial insects. Beneficial insects are considered the good guys and are why gardeners are cautioned not to spray insecticides at random. Here is my handy dandy table on some of the more common Beneficials in North America.


How they help

How to attract them

Assassin Bugs

As a group, assassins feed on everything from beetles to caterpillars.

Improve your chances of having assassin bugs by planting Queen Ann’s lace, alfalfa, camphorweed, plants in the carrot family, goldenrod, Mexican tea, and oleander.

Big-Eyed Bugs

Both adults and nymphs feed heartily on mites, aphids, leafhoppers, and insect eggs.

Bigeyed Bugs are attracted to soybeans, pigweed and goldenrod.


Damsel bugs

Adults feed on aphids, caterpillars, thrips, leafhoppers, and other soft-bodied insects. Nymphs, too, are predators, and will feast both small insects and their eggs.

Damsel Bugs really love to live near alfalfa fields. You can plant alfalfa to attract them or bring a butterfly net to your nearest alfalfa field and scoop them up!


Extremely beneficial to the soil and plants by increasing air space in the soil and leaving behind worm castings.

Always keep garden beds mulched.  Instead of blowing the fall leaves out of your beds (the perfect deep burrowing earthworm food), mow them up and use them as a free, earthworm friendly, mulch along with grass clippings and other compost.

Green Lacewings

Larvae hunt for soft-bodied prey, especially aphids.

They are attracted to Prairie sunflower, Queen Anne's lace, Dill, Tansy, Coriander, and Fennel.

Ground Beetles

Ground beetle larvae prey on slugs, root maggots, cutworms, and other pests on the ground.

Ground beetles like to hideout underneath rocks, leaf litter, and woody debris—so adding a nice layer of wood chips or shredded leaves to ornamental garden beds and pathways provides plenty of habitat.

Hoverflies/syrphid flies/flower flies

They feed on aphids, mealybugs and others.

They are attracted to  Lavender globe lily, Dill, Spearmint, Pennyroyal, Parsley, Sweet alyssum (white), Gloriosa daisy, Zinnia (liliput), and Purple poppy mallow

Lady Beetles

Lady beetles eat aphids, scale insects, thrips, mealybugs, and mites.

Attract ladybugs to your garden with nectar-producing plants such as parsley, dill, cilantro and fennel.

Orchard Mason bees (I never knew there were green bees!)

Excellent pollinators.

Attract them to your garden or orchard by providing nesting blocks.

Parasitic mini-wasps

They do not sting. The stingers have been adapted to allow the females to lay their eggs in the bodies of insect pests. The eggs then hatch, and the young feed on the pests from the inside, killing them.

Attract them by planting Lavender globe lily, Dill,  Coriander, Sweet alyssum (white), Parsley, Tansy, Zinnia (liliput), Crimson thyme, Marigold  (lemon gem), Caraway, and Queen Anne's lace.

Praying Mantids


Praying mantids are generalist predators, meaning they're just as likely to eat a helpful lady beetle as they are to catch a caterpillar, but they can handle even the largest pests in the garden.

Sometimes you can buy one or it’s egg sacks from your local nursery or online. sources also suggest that planting cosmos and raspberries might attract a praying mantis.

Predatory Stink Bugs


Most predatory stink bugs are generalist feeders, but the Spined Soldier Bug, feeds on caterpillars, sawfly larvae, and grubs.

Patented pheromones are sold online to attract the spined soldier bug. You should also plant permanent beds of perennials to provide shelter for this predator.

Soldier Beetles

Love to eat Aphids and Cucumber Beetles
Try planting goldenrod, milkweed, catnip or hydrangeas to attract this bug.

Tachinid flies

Parasites of caterpillars (corn earworm, imported cabbage worm, cabbage looper, cutworms, armyworms), stink bug, squash bug nymphs, beetle and fly larvae, some true bugs, and beetles.

They are attracted to Buckwheat, Pennyroyal, Parsley, Golden marguerite, Tansy, and Crimson thyme.


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