I’ve talked about beneficial insects on here, first in Predatory Insects In The Garden and Five More Beneficial Insects. These are insects like ladybugs, wasps, and bees that pollinate your flowers or eat bugs that feast on your plants, like aphids.
I’ve witnessed first hand how attracting the “good” bugs that eat the “bad” bugs is the best thing you can do for in your garden. It’s pest control without any work, chemicals, or stress. But how do you attract these beneficial bugs? Simple: grow plants that provide a habitat they prefer, and they will show up.
It never ceases to amaze me: plant it and they will come. For example, I had never seen a tiger swallowtail butterfly in my yard, then all of a sudden they were flying around my yard on a regular bases. It turned out it was because I planted leaf fennel, which the tiger swallowtail caterpillars eat. Just growing the plant was enough for the butterfly to show up (and no, I don’t mind if these beautiful caterpillars eat some of my fennel).
5 Flowers That Attract Beneficial Insects:
* Yarrow. Another thing I’ve seen first hand is that yarrow attracts ladybugs and hoverflies, and is said to bring in lacewing wasps as well. What’s more, these yellow (or white or pink) flowers are pretty and easy to take care of–they’re one of the few plants to survive almost near neglect in my front yard. On top of that, they improve soil quality.
* Clover. Some gardeners let clover take over entire lawns, preferring it to grass. Others use clover as a cover crop or green manure because it adds nutrients to the soil. On top of being easy, friendly-looking, and a soil enhancer, clover attracts lots of beneficial insects, including tachinid fly, parasitic wasps, ladybugs, and bees.
* Nasturtium. This gorgeous flower looks great in the garden. They tend to get aphids–bad!–but they also attract ladybugs and bees–good! They repel cucumber beetles, which makes them great companions to cucumber plants. The flowers taste great and are a lovely addition to salads.
* The Parsley Family. This includes dill, carrots, fennel, coriander, Queen Anne’s Lace (poisonous), hemlock (poisonous), and of course, parsley. According to Cornell University, bugs like their “umbrella-shaped clusters of small 5-petaled flowers.” Chances are you have some of these plants in your garden already–I know I do.
* Daisy-Like Flowers. Cornell University also says that beneficial insects like “flower heads that are actually made up of many small flowers growing together. Many flowers are composed of rays around a disk-like center. Many well-known ornamental flowers including marigolds, dahlias, daisies, asters, cosmos, calendula, coreopsis, tansy, yarrow, zinnia, and sunflowers are in this family.”
Personally, I’m growing yarrow, nasturtium, sunflowers, and cosmos this year, so I should be all set on insects, beneficially speaking.