Beneficial insects (also called "good bugs") are  insects that provide valued services like pollination and pest control in the garden.

Insects for Garden Pest Control

 

Fewer things are more frustrating for gardeners than strolling through the yard, admiring the years of hard work, only to discover prized roses devoured by aphids and foliage eaten, chewed and destroyed by mealybugs or mites. Fortunately, not all insects damage plants and turn the garden into a feasting ground. Lucky for us, many insects feast on those same insects that cause the damage. Encourage beneficial insects into the garden with the right plants and a clean environment, and let them take care of removing the unwelcome bugs.
 
Lady Beetles
Also known as lady bugs, lady beetles eat aphids, whiteflies and other soft-bodied insects that are often found destroying bright blooms and plant foliage. Round to oval in shape and usually spotted, lady beetles consume up to 50 aphids per day once weather conditions warm up. The young larvae will eat up to 400 before transforming to adult insect. Dormant lady beetles are available for purchase at some garden supply centers and when released into the garden will start to do their magic.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mantids
Mantids will devour any garden pest.
Also called praying mantis, this odd-looking insect will devour any garden pest. Large front legs grasp at prey, and their large triangular heads allow them to observe and search for pests at any angle with minimal effort. Eggs overwinter in pods attached to solid surfaces, and young mantids hatch in early spring, quickly beginning their search for food. Available from many garden centers, dormant egg pouches will give the garden a good head start in the fight against bad bugs in early spring as the mantids burst out.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lacewing
One of the most effective beneficial insects, lacewings will take care of caterpillars, aphids, leafhoppers, whiteflies, mealybugs and insect eggs. The larvae of lacewings look like 1/2-inch alligators, and the adult develops greenish-blue lacey wings that carry it from plant to plant in search of prey. Plenty of flowers will keep lacewing working in the garden. The nectar provides the lacewing with the needed energy for hunting.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Beneficial Nematodes
Beneficial nematodes are microscopic worms that work under the soil surface removing grubs and larvae that grow into plant-damaging flying insects, like Japanese beetles. Different nematodes attack different pests, so ensure you have the right predator for the job before applying them to the lawn area. Nematodes are used for insects that spend part of their life cycle underground, where they wait for the pest to move through the soil and then move to destroy it.
 
 
 
Parasitic Wasps
Parasitic wasps grow to varying sizes and prey on a number of caterpillars, including cabbageworm, tent caterpillars and tomato fruitworm. The trichogramma, a parasitic wasp the size of a speck of dust, lays up to 300 eggs inside pest larvae, destroying the developing insect. Larger wasps lay their eggs on the caterpillar; as the eggs hatch, they kill the insect. Parasitic wasps are also a good defense against aphids.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other Considerations
Plant a variety of flowers that attract beneficial insects to keep them working in the garden all season long. Keep the garden clean to eliminate spots for the bad bugs to hide, and as plants fade or go dormant at the end of the season, remove any debris from the garden. Remove or prune damaged or weak plants during the season because these become targets and home for garden pests.

Grasshoppers

 
Grasshoppers are a common summer insect, one of the most damaging to garden plants and crops alike. Large populations combined with constant movement make grasshoppers difficult to control. Grasshoppers are quick to strip the landscape of its leaves and vegetation. Grasshoppers visit from early summer right through to heavy frost. During years of larger outbreaks, grasshoppers may expand their food search beyond what they normally consume.
 
Favored Vegetables
Lettuce, onions, corn, carrots and beans are the vegetables of choice for grasshoppers; while squash, peas and tomatoes are three vegetables they avoid. Grasshoppers attack the leaves of trees and shrubs; occasionally the insects will gnaw on tree bark, causing small branches to die back. Gardens most impacted by grasshopper damage tend to be situated close to open brush or grassy areas.
 
Life Cycle
Grasshoppers lay their egg clusters in the soil during fall. Each egg cluster contains up to 30 eggs, and each female lays up to 30 clusters per season, varying by species. The eggs hatch in mid-spring, where the young work their way to the soil surface in search of food in the form of foliage or vegetation. Those that survive reach adulthood within a few weeks and begin the cycle of laying eggs one to three weeks afterward. As grasshoppers prefer dry soil conditions, cooler, wet, spring weather can reduce the number of surviving young in a season. Alternately, very dry conditions are also harmful, as the newly hatched grasshoppers need new plant growth in order to develop and grow, and new plant growth may not be readily available during a dry spring.
 
Natural Control Methods
Many natural control options are available that may help reduce both the local population and garden damage. Plant dense clusters of early spring herbs near the garden to attract the hatching grasshoppers. Spiders and ground beetles also head toward the leafy herbs and will feast on the young grasshoppers. Fill your garden with bird perches, posts and trellises to allow insect-eating birds to sit high and watch for grasshopper movement in the garden. Use floating row covers in the garden to protect susceptible plants, and use stakes or plant supports to keep leaves away from the cloth and to keep grasshoppers from eating through the cover. Grasshoppers will choose tall grasses over the garden area; plant a screen of ornamental grass away from the garden beds.
 
Natural Enemies and Diseases
Crickets and blister beetles feed on grasshopper eggs; while birds, spiders, rodents and even coyotes will feed on adult grasshoppers. Grasshoppers are sensitive to a number of diseases caused by bacteria, fungi and viruses; the use of the pathogenic protozoan nosema locustae, available in bait traps, is a safer alternative than spraying when working to reduce grasshopper effects in the garden. Using the protozoan traps, which cause infection in grasshoppers only, in combination with other natural controls is the best defense against the overall damage caused by these abundant summer insects.
 

        Yellow Jackets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Yellow jackets are a type of wasp that grow up to 3/4 inch long, with jagged-looking yellow and black bands on their bodies. Considered beneficial insects because they feed on various garden pests, as their food supply dwindles over the season, they turn to the same summer foods and sweet drinks you enjoy when picnicking or entertaining on the patio. The colony of yellow jackets starts with one queen in the spring and can grow to thousands by the end of the summer.

 
The Sting
Yellow jacket females sting, and because their stingers are smooth, they also have the ability to sting more than once. When stung, you may feel immediate pain, swelling and redness surrounding the affected area. In some cases, being stung by a yellow jacket can be life-threatening and those with allergies or sensitivities to stings should always keep a sting kit nearby. Seek immediate medical attention if your throat or tongue swells after being stung.
 

The Nest
Yellow jackets often move into abandoned rodent homes or hollowed out tree trunks. You may also find nests in sheds, on porches or attached to the eaves of a house. Stay away from nests during the day -- if they are disturbed, the yellow jackets may attack and sting.