Beneficial Insects

From Antivist

A garden insectary is a small garden plot of flowering plants designed to attract and harbor beneficial insects. These "good insects" prey on many common garden insect pests and offer the gardener a safer, natural alternative to pesticides.

The garden insectary is a form of "companion planting," based on the positive attributes plants can share in deterring pests, acquiring nutrients, or attracting natural predators. By becoming more diverse with your plantings, you're providing habitat, picture of predatory wasp shelter, and alternative food sources (such as pollen and nectar), something many predators need as part of their diet.

Your insectary plot does not have to be large, just big enough to hold six to seven varieties of plants that attract insects. Once the garden has matured, you can watch your personal security force of beneficial insects do the work for you.

Contents

Natural Pest Control by Insect Species

Pest Insect Predator Insect
Aphids Aphidius
Aphids Aphidoletes
Thrips, spidermites, fungus gnats Beneficial mites
Eggs of many pest insects Damsel bugs (Nabidae)
Whiteflies, aphids, thrip, spider mites Dicyphus
Slugs, small caterpillars and grubs Ground beetles
Grubs Spring Tiphia wasp
Aphids, mealybugs and others Hoverflies
Scale, aphids, mites, soft-bodied insects Lacewings
Aphids, mites Ladybugs
Thrips, aphids, mites, scales, whiteflies Pirate bugs
Caterpillars; beetle and fly larvae Tachinid flies
Whiteflies; moth, beetle and fly larvae Parasitic wasps


Tips and Suggestions for Your Garden Insectary

  1. Intersperse vegetable beds with rows or islands of insectary annuals. This will add decorative elements to your vegetable beds while luring beneficial insects toward prey.
  2. Allow some of your salad and cabbage crops to bloom. Brassica flowers (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy) are also appreciated.
  3. Include plants of different heights in your insectary. Ground beetles require the cover provided by low-growing plants such as thyme, rosemary, or mint. Lacewings lay their eggs in shady, protected areas, so providing such places near crop plants is a good idea.
  4. Tiny flowers produced in large quantity are much more valuable than a single, large bloom. Large, nectar-filled blooms actually can drown tiny parasitoid wasps.
  5. Members of the Umbelliferae family are excellent insectary plants. Fennel, angelica, coriander, dill, and wild carrot all produce the tiny flowers required by parasitoid wasps.
  6. Composite flowers (daisy and chamomile) and mints (spearmint, peppermint, or catnip) will attract predatory wasps, hover flies, and robber flies.

General Gardening Advice for Attracting Bees and Other Pollinators

  1. Don’t use pesticides. Most pesticides are not selective. You are killing off the beneficial bugs along with the pests. If you must use a pesticide, start with the least toxic one and follow the label instructions to the letter.
  2. Use local native plants. Research suggests native plants are four times more attractive to native bees than exotic flowers. They are also usually well adapted to your growing conditions and can thrive with minimum attention. In gardens, heirloom varieties of herbs and perennials can also provide good foraging.
  3. Chose several colors of flowers. Bees have good color vision to help them find flowers and the nectar and pollen they offer. Flower colors that particularly attract bees are blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow.
  4. Plant flowers in clumps. Flowers clustered into clumps of one species will attract more pollinators than individual plants scattered through the habitat patch. Where space allows, make the clumps four feet or more in diameter.
  5. Include flowers of different shapes. There are four thousand different species of bees in North America, and they are all different sizes, have different tongue lengths, and will feed on different shaped flowers. Consequently, providing a range of flower shapes means more bees can benefit.
  6. Have a diversity of plants flowering all season. Most bee species are generalists, feeding on a range of plants through their life cycle. By having several plant species flowering at once, and a sequence of plants flowering through spring, summer, and fall, you can support a range of bee species that fly at different times of the season.
  7. Plant where bees will visit. Bees favor sunny spots over shade and need some shelter from strong winds.

Perennial Flowers and Herbs

Common Name Scientific Name Attracts
Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Bees, butterflies and beneficial insects
Basket of Gold Alyssum montanum, Alyssum saxatile Ladybugs and hoverflies
Bronze Fennel Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum lacewings, ladybugs, hoverflies, parasitic mini-wasps and butterflies
Buckwheat Eriogonum pirate bugs.
Catnip Nepeta bees, butterflies and beneficial insect
Chives Allium schoenoprasum bees and butterflies like crazy
Common Fennel Foeniculum vulgare ladybugs, lacewings, paper wasps and soldier bugs.
Coreopsis Coreopsis sp. parasitoid wasps, ladybugs and lacewings.
Crown Pink Lychnis coronaria parasitoid wasps.
Dame's Rocket Hesperis matronalis Bees and butterflies.
Garlic Chives Allium tuberosum bees and beneficial insects
Golden Marguerite Anthemis tinctoria Lacewings, ladybugs, hoverflies, tachinid flies and parasitic mini-wasps.
Lavender 'Lady' Lavandula angustifolia hoverflies and bees
Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis Hoverflies, tachinid flies and parasitic mini-wasps.
Lemon Bee Balm Monarda citriodora Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
Parsley Petroselinum crispum hoverflies, tachinid flies and parasitic wasps
Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea Bees and butterflies.
Red Valerian Centranthus ruber butterflies and beneficial insects
Rocky Mountain Penstemon Penstemon strictus ladybugs, hoverflies, hummingbirds and bees.
Rue Ruta graveolens parasitoid wasps and potter wasps.
Sage Salvia sp. bees and butterflies, and some species attract hummingbirds.
Speedwell Veronica spicata ladybugs and hoverflies.
Tansy Tanacetum vulgare parasitoid wasps, ladybugs, lacewings and pirate bugs.
Thyme Thymus sp. bees, hoverflies, tachinid flies and parasitic mini-wasps.
Violet Viola
Yarrow Achillia sp. ladybugs, hoverflies and parasitic mini-wasps.

Plants That Attract Beneficial Insects

LACEWINGS (Chrysopa spp.)

  • Fern-leaf yarrow (Achillea filipendulina)
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens)
  • Angelica (Angelica gigas)
  • Golden marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria)
  • Four-wing saltbush (Atriplex canescens)
  • Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata)
  • Caraway (Carum Carvi)
  • Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
  • Cosmos white sensation (Cosmos bipinnatus)
  • Queen Anne's lace (Daucus Carota)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Prairie sunflower (Helianthus maximilianii)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

LADYBUGS

  • Fern-leaf yarrow (Achillea filipendulina)
  • Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Carpet bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)
  • Basket of Gold (Alyssum saxatilis)
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens)
  • Golden marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria)
  • Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
  • Four-wing saltbush (Atriplex canescens)
  • Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
  • Queen Anne's lace (Daucus Carota)
  • Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Prairie sunflower (Helianthus maximilianii)
  • Rocky Mt. penstemon (Penstemon strictus)
  • Sulfur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta 'warrenii')
  • Alpine cinquefoil (Potentilla villosa)
  • Marigold - lemon gem (Tagetes tenuifolia)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
  • Spike speedwell (Veronica spicata)
  • Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa)

HOVERFLIES

  • Fern-leaf yarrow (Achillea filipendulina)
  • Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Carpet bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)
  • Lavender globe lily (Allium tanguticum)
  • Basket of Gold (Alyssum saxatilis)
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens)
  • Golden marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria)
  • Dwarf alpine aster (Aster alpinus)
  • Masterwort (Astrantia major)
  • Four-wing saltbush (Atriplex canescens)
  • Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata)
  • Caraway (Carum Carvi)
  • Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium)
  • Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
  • Cosmos white sensation (Cosmos bipinnatus)
  • Anne's lace (Daucus Carota Queen)
  • Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii)
  • Statice (Limonium latifolium)
  • Butter and eggs (Linaria vulgaris)
  • Edging lobelia (Lobelia erinus)
  • Sweet alyssum - white (Lobularia maritima)
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
  • Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
  • Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
  • Rocky Mt. penstemon (Penstemon strictus)
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
  • Sulfur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta 'warrenii')
  • Alpine cinquefoil (Potentilla villosa)
  • Gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia fulgida)
  • Orange stonecrop (Sedum kamtschaticum)
  • Stonecrops (Sedum spurium & album)
  • Peter Pan goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea)
  • Wood betony (Stachys officinalis)
  • Marigold - lemon gem (Tagetes tenuifolia)
  • Crimson thyme (Thymus serpylum coccineus)
  • Spike speedwell (Veronica spicata)
  • Zinnia - liliput (Zinnia elegans)

PARASITIC MINI-WASPS

  • Fern-leaf yarrow (Achillea filipendulina)
  • Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Lavender globe lily (Allium tanguticum)
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens)
  • Golden marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria)
  • Masterwort (Astrantia major)
  • Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata)
  • Caraway (Carum Carvi)
  • Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
  • Cosmos white sensation (Cosmos bipinnatus)
  • Queen Anne's lace (Daucus Carota)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Statice (Limonium latifolium)
  • Butter and eggs (Linaria vulgaris)
  • Edging lobelia (Lobelia erinus)
  • Sweet alyssum - white (Lobularia maritima)
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
  • Sulfur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta 'warrenii')
  • Alpine cinquefoil (Potentilla villosa)
  • Orange stonecrop (Sedum kamtschaticum)
  • Marigold - lemon gem (Tagetes tenuifolia)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  • Crimson thyme (Thymus serpylum coccineus)
  • Zinnia - liliput (Zinnia elegans)

TACHINID FLIES

  • Golden marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria)
  • Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
  • Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  • Crimson thyme (Thymus serpyllum coccineus)

Plants That Attract Butterflies

Nectar-Rich Herbs for Butterflies

  • Agastache foeniculum, Anise hyssop
  • Echinacea, species Coneflowers
  • Hyssopus officinalis, Hyssop
  • Inula helenium, Elecampane
  • Lavandula species and hybrids, Lavenders
  • Mentha species and hybrids, Mints
  • Monarda species, Bee balms
  • Ocimum basilicum, Basil
  • Origanum vulgare, Oregano, wild marjoram
  • Pycnanthemum, species Mountain mints
  • Rosmarinus officinalis, Rosemary
  • Salvia species, Sages
  • Satureja hortensis, Summer savory
  • Taraxacum officinale, Dandelion
  • Thymus species and hybrids, Thymes
  • Tropaeolum majus, Nasturtium

Herbs That Feed Caterpillars

  • Anethum graveolens, Dill — Black Swallowtail, Anise Swallowtail
  • Artemisia dracunculus, Russian tarragon — Swallowtails
  • Asclepias tuberosa, Butterfly weed — Monarch
  • Dictamnus albus, Burning bush — Giant Swallowtail
  • Foeniculum vulgare, Fennel — Anise Swallowtail
  • Glycyrrhiza species, Licorice — Silver-Spotted Skipper
  • Humulus lupulus, Hops — Gray Hairstreak, Question Mark, Red Admiral
  • Levisticum officinale, Lovage — Black Swallowtail, Anise Swallowtail
  • Petroselinum crispum, Parsley — Black Swallowtail, Anise Swallowtail
  • Pimpinella anisum, Anise — Black Swallowtail, Anise Swallowtail
  • Populus balsamifera, Balsam poplar — White Admiral, Viceroy, Western Tiger Swallowtail
  • Rumex acetosella, Sheep sorrel — Little Copper
  • Ruta graveolens, Rue — Black Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail
  • Tropaeolum majus, Nasturtium — Cabbage White
  • Urtica dioica, Nettle — Milbert's Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral
  • Viburnum lentago, Nannyberry — Spring Azure
  • Viola odorata, Sweet violet — Fritillaries

Plants That Attract Bees

Native Trees and Shrubs

  • Blueberries (Vaccinium species)
  • California lilac (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus)
  • Desert willow (Chilopsis linearis)
  • Dogwood (Cornus florida)
  • Huckleberry (Gaylussacia buccata)
  • Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos species)
  • Rhododendrons (Rhododendron species)
  • Viburnums (Viburnum dentatum, V. cassinoides, V. lentago)
  • Willows (Salix species)
  • Wolfberries (Lycium species)
  • Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
  • Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
  • Sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia)

Native Wildflowers

  • Columbines (Aquilegia species)
  • Lupines (Lupinus species)
  • Milkweeds (Asclepias species)
  • Penstemons (Penstemon species)
  • Phacelias (Phacelia species)
  • Shooting stars (Dodecatheon species)
  • Violets (Viola species)
  • Virginia bluebells (Mertensia pulmonarioides)
  • Yellow bells (Tecoma stans)
  • Blazing stars (Liatris species)
  • Buckwheats (Eriogonum species)
  • Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)
  • Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)
  • Indigo bush (Dalea species)
  • Joe pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum)
  • Mints, blue- and white-flowered (Salvia azurea, S. clevelandii, S. farinacea)
  • Monkshood (Aconitum species)
  • Sunflowers (Helianthus species)
  • Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
  • Asters (Aster species)
  • Goldenrods (Solidago species)

Herbs

  • Borage (Borago officianalis)
  • Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
  • Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
  • Oregano (Origanum x majoricum)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalus)
  • Thymes (Thymus species)
  • Lavenders (Lavandula species)
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