By now, most of us are aware of the adverse effects of pesticides in our flower gardens and on our vegetables… but there is some indecisiveness as to how to move forward. With unseasonably mild winter temperatures, the insect population is thriving due to not being cut down during the cold winters. Thankfully, even though the destructive insects have survived, so have the beneficial ones.
These beneficial insects are those that prey on destructive insects, as nature’s own natural pest control. By planting certain flowers that attract these beneficial insects, you’ll be effectively and naturally waging war on those destructive beast that plow through your corn, cabbage and tomatoes without a second thought! Use these methods in conjunction with companion planting and you’ll have a winning combination.
Some attractable beneficial insects are listed as follows:
Ladybugs (feed on aphids and other soft bodied insects)
Lacewings (feed on aphids, thrips, scales, moth eggs and mites)
Ground Beetles (feed on slugs, snails, root maggots and potato bug larvae)
Hover Flies (feed on aphids and pollinate strawberries and raspberries for heartier crops)
Predatory Bugs (feed on tomato hornworms, thrips, spider mites, insect eggs, leafhopper nymphs, corn earworms and small caterpillars)
Parasitic Wasps (feed on pest eggs)
Tachinid Flies (feed on cutworms, army worms, tent caterpillars, cabbage loopers, gypsy moths, sawflies, Japanese beetles, squash bugs and sowbugs)
Gardeners can use several different types of flowers as borders for their gardens that will attract desired beneficial insects. We’ve compiled a list of some of the more popular varieties for you to take a look at:
This beautiful blue flower is a super sweet and abundant nectar producer. The nectar itself has a very high sugar content that is attractive to ladybugs, lacewings and parasitic wasps. Plant seed directly into the ground in early spring; they will reseed themselves for the coming seasons.
These small, white, highly fragrant flowers that grow low to the ground are wonderfully multipurpose. The fragrance is attractive to aphid-eating flower flies, while the plant itself is a fast-growing, weed-consuming, ground-covering machine. Scatter seeds and press lightly into the ground, do not cover. Keep moist.
The clusters of bright blue flowers are edible, and are attractive to most beneficial insects including lacewings. Direct seed and barely cover with soil in any type of soil.
This plant boasts long-lasting yellow flowers and feathery green or purple foliage. Attractive to all nectar-feeding beneficial insects. Grows to about 5′-6′ tall. Direct seed in the spring, place about 10″-12″ apart.
Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
Bright yellow flowers with a chocolate brown center that attract lacewings and bees. Annual, start indoors and transplant when the soil has warmed.
These supremely bright and colorful flowers provide a nice, flat surface for insects to land on, such as bees, ladybugs, hover flies and parasitic wasps. Direct seed in compost rich soil in the spring.
Low Growing Herbs (Thyme & Oregano)
These fragrant herbs do double duty in your garden. Their strong scents repel destructive insects and their low ground cover offers protective habitats for ground beetles. Plant seeds or cuttings in warm soil after last spring frost (Thyme responds best to being started indoors before being planted outside).