Our ecosystem is shared by all kinds of amazing creatures. Unfortunately, not all of them are very good for our backyard pond and gardens! But the good news is there are a lot of insects and amphibians that we can attract to our gardens that end up keeping the more pesky critters away. Here are a few of most beneficial ones and what they help to control.
Dragonflies: Probably the number one summer annoyance is mosquitoes. Mosquitoes tend to be drawn towards water features and become a buzzing and biting nuisance when the weather is warm. Our friend the dragonfly actually eats mosquitoes, helping to keep those annoying bugs away. Dragonflies can be purchased if you don’t have them in the area and are attracted to reedy plants.
Ladybugs: While ladybugs aren’t typically loyal to one area, if you keep them well fed they might stick around. They gobble up aphids, mealybugs, scale, and other little soft-bodied insects. They will keep your plants free and clear of aphids and can carefully be moved around your garden to fight off insects on troubled plants.
Green Lacewing: These guys will work hard and fast to clear out your infestation of whitefly, leafhoppers, mites, aphids, some moths and more. Green lacewings enjoy nectar, so keeping flowering plants nearby will keep them happy. They can be purchased from bug suppliers. But keep in mind, these insects are attracted to lights and you will probably find them hovering around any lamps you have outdoors at night.
Spiders: We know, most people avoid being near spiders, they don’t encourage them to come hang out! But spiders eat so many of the insects that we find to be nuisances, including cicadas.
Frogs: Amphibians will make a happy home in your backyard pond. They will eat moths, flies and other annoying flying insects. As an added bonus, frogs are fun to have around. Watching them grow from tadpoles to hopping, ribbitting frogs is fun for people of all ages.
If you are able, plant and grow as many different types of aquatic plants in your water garden as you can. The more aquatic plants you have growing the more increased diversity of pond associated insects (including those helpful dragonflies) will inhabit your pond and feed on this large variety of troublesome insects.
It is important to know which insects are helpful for a garden and which are a problem. You don’t want to wipe out a population of healthy dragonflies because you don’t realize all of the benefits they can provide. You also need to be careful when treating for the unwanted insects. Some of the treatments can kill off the helpful ones you want to keep around (if you spray your area for mosquitoes there is a good chance you will also take out your dragonfly population). So the next time you see a spider creeping by, don’t be alarmed or squash him, he is helping you with insect control!