Friday, 10 June 2016

Weekly Green Tips - 7 Beneficial Garden Bugs

Week 12 - 7 Beneficial Garden Bugs

It can be all too easy when out in the garden to squish every bug that passes your way, assuming it ill be damaging to your imminent harvest.  Now admittedly there are a lot of bad beasties out there who want nothing more than to eat your harvest before you do but WAIT- before you squash everyone you need to know which are the good guys, the bugs and beasts that actually HELP get that harvest from garden to plate.

1.  Hoverflies

These small wasp like insects get their name because of the way they hover in one place whilst seeming to choose where to go.  Unlike wasps, though, they never sting.  As adults they are very important plant pollinators and the larvae of some species eat aphids/blackfly. 

2.  Centipedes

These multi legged arthropods have between 30 and 354 legs, not 100 and are great garden pest-munchers enjoying nothing more than eating beetles, flies, moths, crickets, silverfish, earwigs and other garden pests. 

3.  Wasps

Now I know adult wasps can be the bane of any picnic or lunch in the garden but actually they are a hugely useful friend to the gardener.  They are able to pollinate plants like tomatoes and beans and both adults and larvae eat aphids.

4.  Bees

It is estimated that bees pollinate 30% of the plants humans eat and without them we would struggle to feed the population of the world.  In our individual veg gardens therefore, without bees expect to see 30% of your crop varieties fail completely if we had no bees.  Say farewell to plants such as varied as broccoli and pumpkins, apples and almonds as they totally rely on bees to pollinate them.

5.  Ladybirds

This small red and black insect* has managed to be the one beetle that unceasingly gets all the  good publicity.  Loved my adults and children alike, ladybirds are incredibly useful with both the adults and their slightly weird-looking larvae munching their way through aphids galore.

* not all ladybirds are actually red with black spots and they come in a range of colours including orange, yellow, black with red spots and brown.  This page from the BBC Breathing Spaces shows what ladybirds you can look out for.

Image from the BBC Breathing Spaces

6.  Lacewings

Lacewings with their delicate see-though green wings may not have as many children's books written about them or be as recognisable as ladybirds but they are even better at eating aphids than their colourful cousins.  They really are a champion friend to the gardener.

7.  Spiders

I know, lots of people have a bit of a phobia about spiders but if you could ignore the 8 hairy legs and big eyes for one moment please bear in  mind that spiders are not at all fussy and will eat a whole range of garden pests from caterpillars to beetles, aphids to weevils.  They really are a gardener's friend.

So please, the next time you are about to zap a small beastie in your garden stop and think whether actually it is more friend than foe.  It may not always be pretty and there may be a small risk it will sting you but overall it's advantages far outweigh these minor disadvantages.  Come on, let's hear it for the beneficial garden bugs and their tireless work keeping pests at bay.

A Green and Rosie Life

Linking up with my own linky - #Animal Tales and the newly found #NatureNotes at Rambling Woods



  1. Great post and information on the garden insects. I will leave the insects to enjoy the outdoors, I am not crazy about them when they enter the house. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

    1. Being someone who reacts very badly to wasp stings I do admit that any of these in the house do get zapped ... and we had to get rid of the wasps nest that was in our house wall when they started coming in through my son's bedroom ceiling #shock

  2. Great photos of the insects & interesting post.

  3. If a bug is outside, I leave it inside is a different story. Terrific photos.

  4. Fab post, must confess I never knew centipedes were useful. We're a bit Buddhist here and don't kill anything, we even rescue slugs - then curse them for eating everything!

  5. Not keen on wasps, so I'm glad to know that they actually have some use then ;) x

  6. we've got quite a few insects in the garden that i notice as i try to get in the door and out the heat as quickly as possible, will try to identify what they are one day

  7. I love your blog and your philosophy... This is a great post as people are so quick to kill insects... Michelle...

  8. Hi Rosie, OooOOooo I never understand why people feel the need to squish bugs! I may not like spiders, but I would never kill one (they are carefully extracted from the house and put outside away from the house). Any bugs found flailing on their backs are carefully righted (my children do the same).

    If I see any bugs of interest the first thing I do is grab my camera (by which time, said bug has usually wandered off).

    Sadly I imagine the use of pesticides kill many beneficial bugs, I can't remember the last time I saw a ladybird!


  9. I must admit I thought wasps had no use whatsoever (I realise that's unlikely but even so....) I really hate them as many people in my family have very severe allergies to them and their stings really hurt. Last year in Poland they totally ruined eating/drinking outside. I counted 26 on one pint of beer at one stage. That really wasn't fun. It's hard not to want to kill them. As for the others I wouldn't ever think of squishing them. Did you take all the photos? They're great.


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