Yesterday's post was about how to identify beneficial insects, now we need to know how to get them in the vegetable garden. Attracting beneficial insects can be a very tricky quest, but there are many ways to lure them to the pests that are hampering the garden. The best way to attract beneficial insects is to provide an environment suitable to the tastes of what you are attracting - providing favorable food, water and shelter.

Ladybugs, lacewings, parasitic wasps, assassin bugs and others like small flowers that are rich in nectar and pollen. Plants that these insects are attracted to are:

  • dill
  • fennel
  • yarrow
  • angelica
  • caraway
  • vetch
  • marigolds
  • tansy
  • dandelions
  • goldenrod
  • nasturtiums
  • bee balm

This is not a complete list of plants that will attract beneficial insects, but is a very useful list that might be in your vegetable garden anyway.

To help attract ground beetles you should provide two things - cover and water. Provide cover by setting out stones or bricks for the ground beetles to hide under during the day. Ground beetles also love mulch. Plant amaranthus and other ground covers, such as clover or vetch to help lure ground beetles.

Provide water by placing a shallow pie pan filled with gravel, then filling with water. Make sure to use the gravel - it will prevent them from drowning. The beetles and other beneficial insects will appreciate the drink. Ground beetles are also attracted to light at night. Placing solar path lights around the garden can help to attract these pest-killing beetles. Do not use bug zappers as a light source - that could end up zapping your helpful garden bugs.

Assassin bugs are attracted to Queen Ann's Lace, alfalfa, and flowers in the daisy family. Mulch also helps to keep assassin bugs in the garden. Assassin bugs and praying mantis also like cover so they can sneak up and ambush prey insects.

When trying to lure beneficial insects plant the attracting plants as a border around the plants you want to protect. Interplanting some flowers in between your crops can also help to attract the pest-killers you want. Attracting beneficial insect can take some planning and a bit of trial and error, but is well worth it when it comes to naturally fighting vegetable garden insect pests.

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