Beneficial Bugs for Your Lawn
Spring is here! Spring is the perfect time to start planting the garden and beautifying the lawn. But spring also brings bugs. It may seem natural to think that all bugs seen in your lawn and garden are bad. However, this statement could not be further from the truth. Of course, there are certain insects that should not be welcomed, such as Japanese beetles and aphids. These dangerous insects result in dead grass, holes in leaves, and spoiled vegetables. However, some insects actually HELP the growth and beauty of your lawn by feeding the soil, pollinating the flowers, and eating the bad insects. Yes, they are your own, natural pest control! To have the healthiest lawn possible it is important to know which bugs are beneficial and also how to attract them. Fight fire with fire by inviting the good bugs to fend off the unwelcome ones!
Do you know where the ladybug got its name? Legend has it that in Europe during the middle ages, swarms of aphids were relentlessly destroying crops.The farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help, and soon after, their prayers were answered in the form of ladybugs. They devoured the aphids and saved the crops. “The Lady’s” bug earned its name. Similar to the middle ages, our gardens and lawns can still benefit from the ladybug.
Their popular red backs and black spots make them very recognizable. As the legend suggests, ladybugs love eating aphids, mealybugs, scales, and other soft-shelled troublemakers. They prefer certain plants so in order to attract them to your yard, think about planting the following: cornflower, golden marguerite, marigold, and savory herbs such as sage and dill. If these plants don’t seem to attract them, you can purchase ladybugs commercially and set them free in your lawn. Choosing this route could be risky as they may instantly fly away, but setting them free at night in a humid area is your best bet on keeping them within your lawn.
Hover Flies have a similar appearance to yellow jackets, with black and yellow stripes across its body. But if looking very closely you will see that in comparison to yellow jackets, hover flies only have 2 wings instead of 4. In addition, these flies seem to hover in the air, hence their name, in contrast to yellow jackets who fly quickly forward. So why are these hover flies desired in your lawn? These flies attack aphids, mealybugs, and other harmful insects found in your garden. Surprisingly, a single hover fly maggot can eat 400 aphids before reaching adulthood! To attract them, plant herbs and pollen-rich flowers. Herbs such as dill, coriander, cilantro, thyme, and sweet alyssum are particularly attractive to hover flies but also appeal to a variety of other beneficial bugs too.
Okay, technically earthworms aren’t an insect, but you definitely want them around! Instead of eating unwelcome insects as ladybugs and hover flies do, earthworms help beautify of your lawn in a different way: By enriching the soil. They consume organic matter, such as soil, and convert it into natural fertilizer. To attract these worms, bury kitchen scraps under a layer of mulch, such as fruits, vegetables, and egg shells, and the worms will detect their presence. Similar to ladybugs, you can purchase earthworms and plant them in your yard to ensure their presence as well.
Honey Bees are another insect that may not necessarily kill the enemy bugs from the garden, but like earthworms, greatly benefit the growth and beauty of it. They fly from flower to flower and pollinate them in the process, helping your flowering plants produce fruits, vegetables, and seeds. So how do you attract these pollinators? They are attracted to flowering plants so having a variety of them in your yard will peak their interest. Did you know that as much as 80% of pollination occurring in your lawn are thanks to these bees? Help your flowers grow by attracting these busy busy honey bees!
Furthermore, it is commonly known that once a honey bee stings a human, they will die within minutes. But why is this? Due to their barbed stingers, they can not remove it after stinging a human without also leaving a portion of their abdomen and digestive tract. As a result, honey bees will rarely sting when they are away from their hive, unless they feel extremely threatened. So if you are a gardener with honey bees pollinating the flowers around you, you have no need to fear their sting if you leave them alone.
These big, dark, and rounded beetles are predators to some unwelcome pests in your garden. They feast on slug eggs, snails, and maggots. The most effective way to attract them is to provide a habitat for them. They love hiding in dark, cool areas so laying down logs, stones, or perennial ground covers provides the environment they love. However, one downside of ground beetles is that in addition to eating the unwanted pests in your garden, they also enjoy eating earthworms.
Along with these helpful bugs for your garden, many people believe Praying Mantes should be on this list as well. However, the praying mantis is an extremely aggressive insect that does not decipher which bugs are good and which are bad. When they are hungry, they will eat ANY bug in their path. This lends the risk of it eating the bugs you WANT to have in your lawn as well.
In summary, not all bugs are bad for your lawn. Welcoming certain insects can even provide a natural pest control for you! However, if those dangerous insects continue to thrive, it may be time to call a professional. Call us at (630) 451-8101 for a free quote!