Some insects are beneficial to the gardener, and some are an enemy. Beneficial insects are agents of pollination; some destroy harmful pests, and some, like butterflies, are beautiful to watch in our gardens. Fortunately, there are easy ways of encouraging insects to your garden.
Insects love plants and flowers; planting a variety of insect-friendly plants will attract various insects. From the plantation, allow part of the garden to grow wild since insects thrive in wild areas. The use of broad-spectrum pest killers destroys all insects, including the beneficial ones, avoids such chemicals.
The declining number of insects in our gardens and yards requires human intervention. Read on this article for a detailed discussion on the easy way of encouraging insects to your garden.
Why Should You Welcome Insects into Your Garden?
There are five major reasons for encouraging insects into a garden, they include;
Insects are pollinators
Flowering plants rely on pollination to produce and multiply. Insects such as bees and hoover flies play a significant role in pollinating plants in our gardens. These pollinators do not harm human beings unless they are provoked. The best way to encourage bees to be around a garden is by making a beehive for them.
They will help in pollinating plants in the garden and produce honey too. Planting food plants for the bees such as strawberries, apples, oranges, and lemons will encourage them to your garden.
Insects act as predators
Plants that grow from leaves have many predators ranging from insects to herbivorous animals. An animal barricade will go a long way in keeping herbivorous animals away from the garden. However, controlling pests that feed on leaves and other parts of a plant can be tricky.
Insects like praying mantises make work easier by eating plant-destroying pests like grasshoppers, beetles, moths, and harmful flies. Spiders are also good in the garden since they trap and eat plant pests. Place plants that attract predator insects near plants at risk of pest infestation to keep them safe.
Insects serve as food for other animals in the garden
Anyone rearing poultry and other birds appreciate the nutritional value of insects to their birds. Apart from the insects serving as pollinators, they also serve as food for birds. Common insects that birds feed on include dragonflies and damselflies. Having such insects on a lawn will keep the birds happy.
Insects add garden’s beauty
Some plants, such as sunflowers, marigolds, and zinnias, have beautiful flowers that attract butterflies and bees. Butterflies are beautiful when hovering around plants that attract them, giving a flower garden an elegant look.
Insects add to the nutrient value of plants
Another reason for encouraging insects in a garden is they increase the plant’s nutrient value. Insects eat plants and their waste, which is a major source of nutrients when it decomposes back into the earth. This increases the fertility of plants and enhances growth rates.
If you want to know what nutrients does your plant needs. I wrote an article about it. You can read it here.
So, how can we encourage insects into our lawn to enjoy the above benefits? Here are six ways to go about it.
Plant Beneficial Insectary Plants
These are plants that are intentionally planted in a garden plot to attract insects. Plant a variety of them to ensure that there are plantations during the different seasons. There are three options of introducing insectary into the garden;
- Planting them in a single portion of the garden
- They can also be inter-spread in between veggies
- Planting them on a separate landscape near the garden
Different insectary plants attract distinct insects. Any garden owner looking to attract insects to their yard should know the appropriate variety of plant insects love. Cover crops such as buckwheat, clovers, and cowpeas are best for attracting beneficial insects.
Growing such plants near a garden full of crops will help control pests like aphids at an early stage. Beneficial insects such as hoverflies eat aphids while they’re at the larvae stage.
The right time to plant insectary plants is before the planting of any crops in the garden. It allows insectary plants to attract beneficial insects before the harmful insects destroy the main plants in the garden. The insectary plants should also be of different heights to give cover to different beneficial insects.
For instance, praying mantises that eat harmful pests in the garden like covering themselves in tall plants that offer them good covering.
Allow Part of the Garden to Grow Wild
Insects do not love a neat garden; they like it when it is messier. However, this does not mean that the garden has to be turned into a bush. Allowing a small part of the garden to grow wild is enough for the insects to thrive. A wild garden segment will look natural, and insects are likely to love natural set-ups than an artificial one.
There are two options to achieve a wild segment in a home garden. One can identify an unattended part of the lawn and sow some plantations, including plants that grow from leaves and wildflowers or cornflowers. The aim is to make the place as wild as possible.
Option two is to allow grass and other plants to grow long. A combination of long grass and flowers makes a natural habitat for other plants to grow and insects to thrive. Birds and other small mammals will also get an opportunity to feed in such an environment.
However, take charge and ensure dangerous animals like snakes don’t make the wild set up their dwelling place.
So how does natural wild garden welcome insects?
- Wildflowers provide nectar, seeds, and pollen which is what insects feed on.
- Insects rely on messy environments for sheltering, forage, and breeding, and larval food.
- In case of any threat, they are likely to hide in the wild and hibernate during winter.
Creating a container garden is also a solution to encouraging insects in the yard. A container garden can create an artificial wild that insects will love.
Avoid the Usage of Broad-Spectrum Pesticides
Pesticides have become a necessary part of our farming and landscape caring. However, most of these pesticides can destroy both harmful and beneficial organisms in the garden. And this may discourage the visitation and growth of beneficial insects on the lawn.
Remember, the containers used in packing these chemicals can also leave some residues even after being used on the lawn. Animals that may contact the container are likely to die because of the poisonous nature of the chemicals in the pesticides.
Chemicals pesticides can be avoided by using non-chemical ways of eradicating pests. This includes;
- Use physical barriers such as nets and cloches to bar unwanted insects and birds from invading the garden.
- Make natural pesticide sprays at home by mixing one and a half teaspoons of liquid soap (it should be mild) with a liter of water. And spray the infested area of the garden. Organic pesticides are safe to use because they will only destroy the targeted pests. And they don’t leave any residue in the ground, meaning they are environmentally friendly.
- Welcome natural predators that destroy pests in the plants that grow from leave. For instance, ladybugs and praying mantises.
- Use plants that are known to deter some common garden pests. For instance, use basil plants as an insect repellent because it smells terrible to most pests that destroy plants. Dill plants also do the same thing.
Chemical pesticides may offer a temporary solution to harmful insects and pests. Still, it will have a long-term negative effect. It will discourage some insects from making the garden their home.
Create a Comfortable Place for the Insects
A shady yard within the compound can be remodeled to imitate a natural landscape that resembles a shady woodland to support insects. They are likely to settle anywhere they feel comfortable. It is therefore important to have insects in mind whenever one is preparing their landscape.
Balcony areas, pots, or window boxes can also accommodate insects as much as insects like light. The white outdoor lights in most homesteads interfere with their eating and breeding behaviors. Besides interfering with their lifestyle, white light also makes them vulnerable to their predators.
This can discourage their multiplication in a homestead. Replace the white lights with warm-colored LED lights or yellow bulbs since such lights do not affect their eating and breeding pattern.
Introduce a Variety of Shrubs, trees, and Climbers in the Yard
More habitats in the garden mean there is going to be a variety of insects taking residency. Shrubs, trees, and climbers provide a sort of shelter for insects while providing nutrition.
For example, plants like lavender and thyme are aromatic plants that produce nectar that attracts certain butterflies while others feed on pollen. There are also plants such as ivies, passion vines, and passionflowers that attract aphids and mites. The diversity in plants will correspond with the variety in the type of insects residing in the garden.
Even with the variety of shrubs, trees, and climbers in the garden, there should be proper maintenance to maintain its natural appearance. Ensure that plants don’t lose their natural good looks like plants that grow from leaves.
If the plants have flowers, they should maintain their bright colors to attract insects. Weedy plants and plants with dead leaves should be replaced if possible.
Create Water Sources for the Insects
While insects can feed on pollen, nectar, and other plant parts, they also need water to survive. Luckily, insects do not need drums or gallons of water to be placed in the garden daily. Instead, they only drink from shallow ponds, clean water in a saucer filled with stones.
This water should be changed often, at least weekly, to ensure no breeding of mosquitos.
However, if the lawn is under overhead sprinkler irrigation, there is no need to create artificial water points for the insects. Instead, the insects will benefit from water that gets trapped in the foliage during irrigation. This is especially if the irrigation is done frequently. It’s also adorable to watch butterflies sipping water from puddles.
Conclusion on 6 ways to encourage insects into your garden
Insects are a vital part of any garden. We can encourage their presence by planting certain plants and using particular methods to provide shelter and food sources. Either of the six ways above will encourage insects into your garden.
Regardless of the approach, anyone will follow, we highly discourage using chemical pesticides to spray plants that grow from leaves. Chemical pesticides will harm all types of living creatures in addition to killing off beneficial ones like pollinators.
If you want to know what insects are beneficial to your garden. I wrote an article discussing beneficial insects in your garden. You can read it here.
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