A Guide to 10 Beneficial Garden Insects

There’s a reason for the saying “don’t bug me.” Insects get a bad wrap. Some are super small, crawling into the strangest places. Others are alarmingly large, spindly and black-eyed. In the worst scenarios, they sting or bite. Or keep us up all night, buzzing around our ears. Though they might be annoying sometimes, there are a lot of beneficial garden insects.

Some garden insects eat pests, such as aphids, that damage your plants. Some are pollinators, keeping flowers in bloom. Others are waste managers, breaking down fallen leaves and other gunk.

As with everything in nature, balance and biodiversity is key. All kinds of insects are needed to keep a garden healthy. Getting to know and avoiding stepping on some of them will help you maintain your garden.

Here are 10 beneficial garden insects to learn to love

Pollinators

  • Butterflies – A colorful favorite, butterflies are major pollinators and a sign of a healthy garden.
  • Bumblebees – Probably the most well-known, bumblebees support wild plants and commercial crops. They work fast and carry lots of pollen, making them the garden must-haves.
  • Moths – Often overlooked and understudied, moths also pollinate flowers, especially night-blooming ones.

Pest Controllers

  • Ladybugs – These polka-dotted superheroes eat all sorts of garden bullies including mildew, aphids, and mealy worms.
  • Green Lacewings – Keep an eye out for these lime green pals. They eat caterpillars, mites, mealy bugs and a lot of aphids. Some people even call them “aphid lions.”
  • Dragonflies – Thanks to dragonflies, mosquito populations don’t get out of control. These airplane-looking bugs also eat flies and midges.
  • Spiders – Spiders take care of a lot of garden bullies including spider mites, aphids, mosquitos and caterpillars.
  • Wasps – If you’re growing veggies in your yard, then wasps might be key to your crops turning out okay. These yellow jackets eat grubs, caterpillars, weevils, and aphids too.

Waste Managers

  • Beetles – Dark and strange as they may be, beetles are a helpful clean-up crew. Many beetles eat waste and animal matter. Other types of beetles prefer weeds and weed seeds, which is useful. For example, the city of Regina released beetles to eat invasive purple loose-strife weeds.
  • Soldier Flies – Most people mistake flies for being pests, and many types of flies are, but these help break down compost almost as fast as worms.

How to Attract Beneficial Insects

  1. Grow flowers with plenty of pollen and nectar – These sources are fuel for bugs, giving them sugar and protein. Some flowers have more readily available pollen and nectar. Cluster flowers such as sweet alyssum, and composite flowers such as black-eyed susan are good examples. Try planting wildflower seed paper, which has non-GMO, non-invasive seeds and 6 different species of wildflowers including black-eyed susans and sweet alyssums.
  2. Consider trap plants – Sometimes called the sacrificial crop, these plants attract pests that beneficial insects eat. For example, nasturtiums catch aphids, and marigolds invite slugs. Plant them on the outer edge of your garden, keeping and trapping pests there before they reach the rest of your blooms.
  3. Choose botanical pesticides and insecticides – Using synthetic insecticides that last longer and go on stronger will attack the pests you don’t want, but they may also get rid of all the beneficial insects too. Plus, they’re harsh on your plants and the surrounding ecosystem. If you need to, go with more eco-friendly insecticide options that are made from plant oils and minerals. Or make your own DIY insecticidal soap.
  4. Encourage puddles – Insects need places to drink from. You can use an overhead sprinkler to create regular puddles or build a bug bath for them.
  5. Keep soil moist and use mulch – While beneficial ground beetles and other bugs wander your garden, they’ll need shelter. Tucking under a piece of shredded back might be the rest they need from the heat. Wet mulch is better, so they stay hydrated.

The next time you find a funny-looking bug in your flowerbed, remember, they’re not all bad. They might look creepy. You might not want to pick them up, but they play a part in making your blooms look bright and happy.


Learn more about this special paper made by Botanical PaperWorks that uses post-consumer materials and is embedded with seeds so that it will grow when planted!

You can buy seed paper sheets for eco-friendly papercraft projects from Botanical PaperWorks. We have a variety of seed options, including wildflower, herb and veggie, and over 25 seed paper colors. Join our mailing list to receive emails with freebies, projects, coupons, green living tips, and decor ideas and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest

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