Good Bugs for Your Grass: Five Bugs You Want to Live in Your Lawn and Garden
As human beings we have an almost instinctual revulsion towards insects. There is just something about an animal with six legs and an exoskeleton that makes our collective skin crawl. When it comes to your and garden, bugs usually mean bad news. We’ve all seen what happens when bad bugs invade our yards. Dead grass, spoiled vegetables, leaves full of holes- the list of insect-induced destruction goes on and on.
On the flipside, though, there are insect good guys that are beneficial to our lawns. Learning how to attract the “right crowd” of bugs can help make your grass greener, your vegetables bigger and even keep some of the bad bugs away.
- Ladybugs- The first benefit of ladybugs is obvious- they are beautiful insects. As far as your garden goes, they also provide another HUGE benefit: pest control. Ladybugs eat garden pests like aphids, and are a great alternative to pesticide. To attract ladybugs to your garden, grow plants that ladybugs like: marigolds, and savory herbs like sage, and dill. It is possible to buy ladybugs commercially if you are not able to attract them on your own.
- Earthworms*- Okay, we put an asterisk on this one because earthworms aren’t TECHNICALLY an insect, but they are incredibly beneficial for lawns and gardens. Earthworms consume organic matter, including organic waste, and convert it into natural fertilizer. To attract earthworms to your garden, bury kitchen scraps under a layer of mulch. Fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and eggshells are all great for attracting earthworms—but you’re going to want to exclude any meat scraps. Like ladybugs, you can also purchase earthworms.
- Honey bees- The benefit of honey bees is fairly well-known: they pollinate your flowering plants so they can produce fruits, vegetables and seeds. To attract honey bees, plant many different kinds of plants, focusing on native varieties of flowering plants, because bees prefer the local flowers they are familiar with.
- Ground Beetles- Ground beetles are voracious pest predators. These little critters will eat almost anything that moves in your garden, from slugs to snails to potato beetles. Attracting ground beetles is similar to the process of attracting earthworms: Lay down mulch or woodchips in your garden. There is one downside to ground beetles- in addition to eating pests, they also eat earthworms.
- Tachinid Flies- You may be saying to yourself “What the heck is a tachinid fly?” Tachinid flies are parasites to your garden’s parasites. To get a little graphic, tachinid flies will lay an egg on the back of a garden pest, and then, much like the movie “Alien,” their larva will consume the pest from the inside out. To attract these horrifying little monsters, plant herbs or carrots.