Garden Allies: The Unseen Heroes

Of the millions of species of insects in the world, few are actually harmful to garden plants. In fact, many species, known as beneficial insects, support gardens by feeding on particularly harmful insects, states the gardening team at Granny Mouse Country House & Spa.

Beneficial insects are the species of insects that support the health of plants through either pollination or pest control.

It’s possible to encourage beneficial insects to reduce the harm of nuisance insects without resorting to chemical sprays, which can kill both.

While honeybees, bumblebees, and butterflies need no introduction, other insects—predators rather than pollinators—may be less familiar.

Here are some beneficial insects you want to start attracting.

  1. Wasps

There are many different species of wasps in South Africa, the most common ones are the paper wasps, yellow jackets and hornets. Paper wasps are beneficial, feeding on many pest insects, arthropods and any other pests that may show up.

  1. Ladybirds (also known as Ladybugs)

The ladybird, whose jazzy wing markings are always a delight to see, are one of our biggest allies.

Ladybirds are more than just a pretty visitor in your garden. Did you know that they can eat up to 60 aphids per day? Ladybirds are nature’s nurses who protect your plants, leaving you with peace of mind.

  1. Earthworms

Now that it’s raining more often, you’re bound to find one or two of these in your garden. They have no eyes, legs or lungs, but did you know that the presence of earthworms in your garden is a sign that your soil is healthy? They clean your soil, keep it aerated and build soil fertility through their digestion of organic matter. Add more organic matter to your soil to attract more earthworms. The healthier your soil is, the better your vegetable harvest!

  1. Praying Mantis

This majestic insect enjoys preying on those pests that feast on your vegetables. So next time you spot one in your garden, let it continue with its daily duty.

  1. Spiders

These eight-legged creatures creep out a lot of people, but don’t let their bad reputation fool you because these predators are welcome in your veggie and herb garden. They trap the nasty pests in their spider-webs, so that you don’t have to get rid of them yourself, and many of them are not harmful to humans. Embrace them, don’t kill them.

  1. Butterflies

Butterflies have more to them than just beautiful colours that catch your eye in the sunlight as they flutter in our gardens. While they feed on nectar from the flowers they land on, they collect pollen with their feet and move pollen from one flower to the next. This fertilizes the plant so that it can produce seeds and fruit.

  1. Ground Beetles

Weeds can ruin your vegetable garden, which is why you need to stop them at the source. Luckily, ground beetles have developed a taste for the seeds, and their preferred flavour comes from weeds and the seeds that weeds produce.

So the next time you see one of these beautiful little guys, keep them around in your garden as these little soldiers will defend and protect your plants.

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