By Ron Harrison, Ph.D., entomologist and technical services director at Orkin
As gardeners prepare for the planting, weeding, pruning and leaf clearing that comes with the beginning of spring, insects and other pests are also preparing for their big breakout. Across the country, harmful pests that have survived the winter will start to activate.
As gardeners, you take pride in your work, so how can you protect the investment sprouting in the soil and prevent the vegetation-preying insects from feeding?
Strategically placing insect-attracting plants in your garden or on your patio may sound counterintuitive, but there’s a science behind the strategy that could keep your garden healthy all season, because you’re attracting natural predators that feed on the pests that harm your garden.
These are the top five plants that can help attract beneficial insects to your garden:
Fern-Leaf Yarrow(Achillea filipendulina)
This yellow flowering fern-leaf plant attracts a variety of beneficial insects. It is especially popular among ladybugs, which will eat harmful pests like aphids in your garden. In fact, ladybugs were originally introduced to the United States as common garden pest predators.
Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
This beautiful and floral annual boasts white flowers and offers a number of benefits in your garden. It attracts the syrphid fly, commonly known as the “hoverfly,” which hovers around the flower and feeds on aphids and other small, soft-bodied insects. Its fast-growing nature also smothers weeds, making it the perfect addition to any vegetable garden.
Dill (Anethum graveolens)
Dill is more than just a tasty herb. It’s also highly attractive to lacewings, which feed on spider mites, mealybugs and aphids. Lacewing larvae are so effective at their job that they’re sometimes called “aphid lions.”
Lavender Globe Lily (Allium tanguticum)
The purple lavender globe lily serves as a great deterrent for garden pests. It attracts adult lacewings, flower flies and parasitic wasps, whose young devour some of the insects that can destroy a garden.
Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)
This blue and purple wildflower is more than just a beautiful bloom. With above average sugar content, it attracts all sorts of beneficial pests like ladybugs, lacewings and flower flies.
Many of the beneficial insects attracted to plants do not feed on the pests that make a gardener’s life a nightmare; their larvae do. It’s important to attract the adults to your garden by providing the adults food too, including a wide range of plants that bloom and produce nectar or pollen.
Go to orkin.com to learn more about common household pests.
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