It is contradictory to think of a “pest” being anything other than a nuisance, but in reality, there are many that will help your garden flourish naturally. Take a look at the list below to learn which critters should stay and which should go.
1. Garter Snakes – For some people, the idea of a snake living in their garden will strike fear in them. However, these rather harmless snakes are beneficial to most gardens by eating harmful insects like grasshoppers & crickets, as well as mice. They are attracted to tall grasses, rock and wood piles
2. Bees – Bees get a bad rap because of the fear invoked by their painful stings, but honey bees will only sting when provoked as it will cost them their life. They will help cross-pollinate any fruit or vegetable plants in your garden, helping to yield a bigger crop. Attract bees to your garden by planting bee-friendly flowers that bloom throughout the growing season for a continuous supply of food.
3. Spiders – When found indoors, spiders are widely disliked and even feared. However, when you see a spider outdoors in its natural habitat, you should let it be. In turn, it will provide beneficial pest control in your gardens. They will eat aphids, caterpillars, grasshoppers and fruit flies, all of which have the potential to damage your plants.
4. Ground Beetles – There are over 2,500 different types of ground beetles. They are nocturnal and will eat whatever bugs they find on the ground. They will help you get rid of slugs, snails, cutworms, cabbage maggots, and caterpillars. They are attracted to perennials where they can lay their eggs, as well as compost piles which they will feed on.
5. Ladybugs – Many people don’t realize that ladybugs are ferocious predators. They are carnivores that have an incredible appetite. Each ladybug can eat fifty to sixty aphids per day and over five thousand in a lifetime. In addition, they also like to munch on mealworms, leafhoppers, and mites. Therefore, they are welcome guests by most gardeners. Planting Dill and Fennel can help attract them to your garden.
This is just a small sampling of some of the most common beneficial garden critters. There are many more insects that can help your garden flourish, so before you squash the next bug you see in your garden, make sure you check whether it’s a good guy or a bad guy!