A garden filled with beneficial insects is a healthy, happy place. As well as pollinating flowers to produce fruit and berries, beneficial insects are incredible at pest control and provide food for birds and other garden wildlife. Encouraging more beneficial insects in your garden is one of the best things you can do for your garden. Find out why and how!
What are beneficial insects?
In any garden, you’ll find a wide range of insects, some helpful and some not so helpful. Look out for these beneficial insects in your gardens:
- Ladybirds – both the larvae (which look somewhat like tiny crocodiles) and the adult beetles eat enormous amounts of aphids.
- Adult hoverflies are good pollinators, and their tiny slug-like larvae are even more helpful, hoovering up aphids in huge quantities.
- Bees, bumblebees, butterflies and moths are all important pollinators, and the caterpillars of butterflies and moths also provide food for birds.
Planting for beneficial insects
One of the best ways to encourage beneficial insects into your garden is to make sure there’s enough for them to eat. Planting the right flowers will help ensure a healthy garden insect population.
- Umbellifers (plants with flattened flowerheads) like coriander, achillea and cow parsley are a favourite with hoverflies and ladybirds.
- Flowers with open or prominent centres, such as daisies, echinacea or single dahlias, make it easy for pollinators to get to the nectaries at their centres.
- Bees are especially attracted to blue and purple flowers, such as lavender.
- Buddleja is called the butterfly bush because its long pendant flowers have such appeal for butterflies.
- Moths are often drawn to night-scented flowers like evening primrose and nicotiana.
How to make an insect-friendly garden
As well as planting flowers that will attract the right insects to your garden, follow these tips to keep your insect population healthy.
- Avoid using pesticides, as these will kill beneficial insects along with pests. When dealing with aphids, remember that the ladybirds tend to arrive a couple of weeks after the aphids appear. In the meantime, keep the problem under control by wiping the bugs off your plants or squishing them with a finger and thumb.
- Leave an area of your lawn unmown to provide a habitat for insects and other garden wildlife. A recent study by conservation charity Plantlife showed that lawns left unmown for a month can support up to 2.4 pollinators per square metre, compared to 1.9 pollinators per square metre for properties cut weekly.
- Have a wild garden area where a few dandelions and nettles can grow – nettles provide food for some of our most popular butterflies, including Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and Red Admirals, and dandelions are an excellent food source for bees in spring.
Our centre has a fantastic range of pollinator-friendly plants, so visit us today and treat your garden’s insects!