My best friends in the garden are beneficial insects, sorry Ms. Mar! Beneficial insects are in the garden to help make your tasks easier, including keeping unwanted insects in check. Beneficial insects include mason bees, parasitic wasps, preying mantis, ladybugs (lady beetles), and assassin bugs. Believe it or not, termites would be included in this category as well! There are many others as well, just too many to list in a single sentence.
Mason bees assist with pollination when honey bees and bumble bees fail. Parasitic wasps use tomato hornworms as their offspring carrier, at which point the wasps eat their way out of the hornworm, killing it in the process. Preying mantis eat bugs in the garden, as do ladybugs. Assassin bugs lie in wait for their prey and “pounce” when their prey is within range. Termites help to break down (the already decaying) wood products in your garden, thereby helping you!
Provide habitat and food for beneficial insects and they will assist you on the garden. Habitat would include shelter from predators such as birds. Food would include the pests that they would eat! Territorial Seed even sells a beneficial insect food for your garden friends!
There are a couple of beneficial insects that you can pickup at your local lawn and garden shop, like mason bees, lady bugs, and preying mantis, but there are others that are more difficult to come by. Some of the more difficult ones to come by are the spider mite predator and the green lacewing.
It is also important to release the beneficial insects at the right time of day, for example, lady bugs need to be released in the early evening to be able to acclimate themselves to your garden. There are others as well that need special care when letting them into your garden. Always consult the info received with your purchase of friends! As with all friends, treat them well, and they will return the favor.
Do you have any new friends lately? Leave us a note in the comments below!