Invite a few bugs to your garden this year. Not all bugs are bad; beneficial insects are predators that eliminate the destructive bugs and restore balance to your garden. Planting perennial plants (that return yearly) to attract these insects will ensure they return for years to come. Perennials can also bring bumblebees to your garden. Don’t overlook the benefit these pollinator bees offer to a well-balanced garden.
The larval form of the lacewing is a predator of mites, aphids, scales, moth eggs, caterpillars and thrips. To attract the lacewing to your garden plant fern-leaf yarrow (Achillea filipendulina), fennel, golden marguerite (Anthemis), prairie flower (Helianthus maximillani), purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata), Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) and tansy.
Although ladybugs are known to be good predators at all stages of life, they are actually the most beneficial in their larval form, according to Plant Paradise Country Gardens. They like to eat insects with soft bodies, such as aphids. To attract the adult ladybug, plant fern-leaf Yarrow, basket of gold (Alyssum), Artemesia, fennel, golden marguerite, prairie flower, Rocky Mountain penstemon (Penstemon strictus), Queen Anne’s lace, orange coneflower (Rudebeckia fulgida) and tansy.
The hoverfly is also known as the syrphid fly or the flower fly and feeds mostly on aphids. These tiny bees can outperform other insects by accessing areas of plants that their larger counterparts can’t reach. They are also out in early spring, before other beneficial insects. To attract the hoverfly, plant fern-leaf yarrow, basket of gold (Aurinia saxatilis), Allium, alpine aster (Aster alpinus) or golden marguerite.
Parasitic mini-wasps feed on the eggs of the destructive bugs. To attract these wasps plant allium, artemesia, fennel, golden marguerite, hyssop, statice “sea lavender” (Limonium latifolium), masterwort, parsley, purple poppy mallow, Queen Anne’s lace, pennyroyal, sedum, tansy and thyme.
The tachinid fly resembles the housefly and feasts on cutworms, caterpillars, gypsy moths, sawflies, armyworms, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, cabbage loopers and sowbugs. The tachinid fly is attracted to artemesia, masterwort (Astrantia or Peucedanum ostruthium), parsley and golden marguerite.
A symbiotic relationship exists between flowers and bumblebees. Bumblebees are pollinators and necessary for the life cycle of your plants. They need pollen and nectar during their entire lifespan and your perennials need to be pollinated. Bumblebee.org states that if frost has affected your plants, you can supplement nectar by creating a mixture of 30 percent sugar and 70 percent water. Put it in a tiny container near your flowering plants.
Bumblebees are attracted to buttercups, clematis, crocuses, dahlias (Dahlia Cav), germander, globe thistle (Echinops), rock cress (Arabidopsis Heynh and Arabis), snowdrops, foxglove, geraniums, hollyhocks (Alcea and Alcea Rosea), hyacinth (Hyacinthus), roses, yellow hyssop (Hyssopus), sedum and tansy.