Ever seen a little bug crawling all over your beautiful garden and think that you should karate-punch it because you thought it might damage your garden? Honestly even I’ve done the same. But just recently I realized that not all bugs are bad for your plants. Some of them are actually really good for them.
Everyone loves a ladybug, but gardeners hold them in especially high regard. Ladybugs eat aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, and mites. Both the adults and the larvae feed on pests. Lady beetle larvae look like tiny, colorful alligators. Learn to recognize them, so you don’t mistake them for pests.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to harm a praying mantis. But why would you want to? Praying mantis can handle even the largest pests in the garden. You need a good eye to spot one, because their coloration and shape provide them with perfect camouflage among the garden plants. When the nymphs hatch, they’re so hungry they sometimes eat their siblings. In fact, praying mantis are generalist predators, meaning they’re just as likely to eat a helpful lady beetle as they are to catch a caterpillar.
Damsel bugs use thickened front legs to grab their prey, which includes aphids, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and other soft-bodied insects. Nymphs, too, are predators, and will feast both small insects and their eggs. With their dull brown coloring, damsel bugs blend in to their environment quite well.
Predatory Stink Bugs
Though many stink bugs are plant pests themselves, some predatory stink bugs keep pests in check. The spined soldier bug feeds on caterpillars, sawfly larvae, and grubs. Most predatory stink bugs are generalist feeders, so they might also devour your lady beetles or even their own kin. You can recognize stink bugs by their shield-shaped bodies, and the pungent odor they produce when disturbed.
You’ve probably overlooked the ground beetles in your garden. Lift a stepping stone, and you might see one skittering away. The dark-colored adults often have a metallic sheen, but it’s really the larvae that do the dirty work of pest control. Ground beetle larvae develop in the soil, and prey on slugs, root maggots, cutworms, and other pests on the ground. A few species will venture up a plant stem and hunt for caterpillars or insect eggs. (Source: buzzfeed.com).