So before you go through the trouble and expense of trying to get rid of all the critters in your gardens, let’s take a look at some beneficials that we definitely want to make welcome in our gardens and hope they come back next year too. Here are some that will help you to keep the bad ones in check:
The Lady Beetle, commonly called Lady Bug, is often the first beneficial insect people learn to recognize. Fewer people recognize the Lady Bug’s larvae which are usually black, blue, and orange colored and are alligator-shaped with thick stubby legs. There are hundreds of different lady beetle species, but practically all species share the trait of being skilled predators as both larvae and adults. They eat hundreds of soft-bodied insects each day. Lucky for us, most lady beetles prefer to feed on aphids, a destructive garden pest that damage plants and spread viruses.
Dragonflies and their cousins Damselflies are valuable predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, ants, and wasps. They are usually found around marshes, lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands because their larvae, known as "nymphs", are aquatic. Some 5680 different species of dragonflies are known in the world today. These beauties feed on small soft-bodied insects, caterpillars and insect eggs.
Lacewings, which include several green-colored and some brown-colored species, are slender insects with long antennae and large transparent wings. The green lacewing has many veins in their wings giving them a lace-like appearance. Brown lacewings are similar but smaller with wings that are less transparent because they are covered with small brown hairs. They eat small soft-bodied insects, insect eggs, and caterpillars.
Spiders are not insects, but these arthropods (although admittedly perhaps a bit creepy to some of us) are very important as predators of insects in the garden and definitely worth keeping around. They come in many sizes and colors and they will prey on almost any insect that comes within their range.
Whatever way you choose to control destructive pests in your garden, please keep in mind that Insecticide applications typically reduce beneficial insects as well and often result in secondary pest outbreaks.