We often see insects as nothing more than pests, but the reality is that there are many insects that play an important role in our world. From preying on harmful insects and critters, to pollinating plants, there are a handful of bugs that help your garden flourish.
The ground beetle is one tough cookie and a force to be reckoned with in the bug world. With over 40,000 species of ground beetles worldwide, these tough guys help take down garden villains on a regular basis. Coming in at about 1/8 to 1/2 inch in size, these fearless bugs prey on slugs, snails, cabbage maggots and other pests. In fact, it’s rumored that the average ground beetle consumes about 50 caterpillars in its lifespan. To ensure that your perennials (such as plants that live for more than two years) are safe, you’ll want to make sure that you have plenty of ground beetles ready. So resist the urge to squash that shiny bug that scuttles across your feet in the summertime.
Don’t let this dainty-sized, cute-named bug fool you: It’s also part of the beetle family and therefore one tough mother bugger. Known in some cultures as the lady beetle, these itty-bitty, polka-dotted bugs are useful in the garden because they prey on aphids (pesky, fly-like insects that can ruin a farmer’s crop). Ladybugs are highly attracted to flower nectar and pollen, so you’ll want to make sure that you continue to provide them flowers to dine on. But don’t worry, they’re not picky about the type of flowers in their midst; they’d even be happy with a carnation.
Before you freak out over these eight-legged outcasts, just remember that spiders prevent pest outbreaks by preying on smaller, pesky insects that are out to devour your gardens — specifically your vegetable gardens. So in a weird, twisted way, a spider actually helps make sure that you have food on the table every night (assuming that you’re eating your daily dose of vegetables). To keep spiders happy, they thrive in gardens that contain perennials and straw mulch. If you’re still afraid of spiders after reading this little tidbit, then you should avoid said gardens).
Equal parts fuzzy and fierce, the honeybee is nature’s gift to humankind. Honeybees play a pivotal role in pollinating plants, which is another way of saying reproducing. Honeybees spend their days happily flying from flower to flower, each time, spreading a little bit of pollen from plant to plant. In addition to aiding in the creation of more plants, honeybees also produce honey, referred by some as liquid gold. While many of us fear coming in contact with a honeybee, its population is actually very vulnerable and on the decline due to a variety of factors.