(work in progress)
Create an “Insectary” 🙂
1. Intersperse vegetable beds with rows or islands of flowers/annuals that beneficial insects like. Also is decorative and pleasing to walk among flowers, not just a bunch of tomatoes
2. Allow some of the salad and cabbage crops to bloom – cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy (“Brassica” plants)
3. Include plants and herbs of different heights in your insectary, and plants that are in full sun AND in shade. Thyme, Rosemary and Mint are great for ground beetles -they require the cover provided by these low-growing plants. Lacewings lay their eggs in shady, protected areas.
4. Tiny flowers produced in large quantity are much more valuable than a single, large bloom. The large, nectar-filled blooms can actually DROWN tiny parasitoid wasps (these wasps are only about 1/4 long).
5. Plant lots of the “Umbelliferae” family are excellent insectary plants – fennel, angelica, coriander, dill, and wild carrot all produce the tiny flowers required by parasitoid wasps. Just be careful where you plant them – many are invasive (spreads out) and many don’t play nice with vegetable plants (especially the fennel – don’t plant this near beans or tomatoes). The idea is to have them NEAR the garden for the insects to enjoy, not IN the garden where the veggie plants are.
6. Composite flowers (i.e., clusters of blooms) like daisy and chamomile, and mints like spearmint, peppermint, or catnip will attract predatory wasps, hover flies, and robber flies.
What to Plant to Attract Beneficial Insects (Predator Insects)
|Predator Insect||What to Plant (Insectary Plant)|
|Lacewings, aphidius, ladybugs||Achillea filipendulina|
|Spring Tiphia wasp||Peonies, firethorn, forsythia|
|Ichneumon wasp, ladybugs, lacewings||Anethum graveolens (dill)|
|Ladybugs, hoverflies||Convolvulus minor|
|Hoverflies, parasitic wasps, lacewings||Cosmos bipinnatus|
|Lacewings, ladybugs, hoverflies||Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s lace)|
|Damsel bugs, ladybugs, lacewings||Foeniculum vulgare (fennel)|
|Pirate bugs, beneficial mites||Helianthus annulus|
|Hoverflies, parasitic wasps||Limonium latifolium (Statice)|
|Aphidius, aphidoletes, hoverflies||Lupin|
|Parasitic wasps, tachinid flies||Melissa officinalis (lemon balm)|
|Parasitic wasps, hoverflies, tachinid flies||Petroselinum crispum (parsley)|
|Pirate bugs, beneficial mites||Shasta daisy|
|Pirate bugs, aphidius||Sunflowers|
|Ladybugs, lacewings||Tanacetum vulgare (tansy)|
From left to right: Statice, Lupin, Tansy, Queen Anne’s Lace, Sunflower