Garden Insects – The Good, The Bad, & The Eeww!

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Gardening is an enjoyable hobby, but it can be daunting when you encounter insects that may harm your plants. It’s important to understand the difference between beneficial and pest insects in the garden so you can protect both your plants and helpful bugs. Beneficial insects are those which help the garden by pollinating flowers or preying on pests, while pest insects feed on leaves or sap from plants and are generally considered a nuisance. In this article, we’ll explore common examples of beneficial and pest garden insects, so you know what to look out for in your own backyard!

Beneficial Garden Insects

The garden can be a magical place, full of life and beauty. But it’s also home to many different types of insects, some beneficial and some not so much. Knowing the difference between these two types is essential for keeping your plants healthy and safe from harm. Beneficial garden insects are those which help the garden by pollinating flowers or preying on pests and when you encounter them in the garden, it’s definitely advisable to let them do their jobs!

1. Ladybugs eat aphids and other pests that harm plants, so they’re a great ally to have in your garden.

2. Bees and butterflies pollinate flowers and help maintain the biodiversity of plants.

3. Lacewings are predatory insects that feed on aphids and other soft-bodied pests. Lacewings can be identified by their delicate, lacy wings and slim body. They are usually green or brown in color and measure 5 to 25 mm in length. Their wings are marked with a pattern of small veins that resemble a net or lace, thus earning the insect its name. When they fly, they hold their wings together like a tent over their bodies.

4. Praying mantises eat a variety of insects, including caterpillars, mosquitoes, and other pests.

5. Ground beetles consume a variety of pests including slugs, snails, and grubs.

6. Parasitic wasps lay eggs on or in the body of other insects and when their larvae hatch, they feed on their host.

Pest Garden Insects

Unfortunately, not all insects are beneficial to a garden. Pest insects can cause significant damage to plants and crops, so it’s important to identify and remove them if they’re present in your backyard. Common examples of pest insects include:

1. Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on plant sap and excrete a sugary substance called honeydew. They can cause damage to leaves and weaken plants.

2. Cutworms are the larvae of night-flying moths, the adults of which do not harm plants. The larvae feed on young stems and leaves at night, resulting in wilted foliage and stunted growth.

3. Whiteflies are tiny, winged insects that suck sap from plants, leading to yellowing of leaves and poor plant health.

4. Japanese beetles feed on the foliage and flowers of many types of plants and can cause extensive damage if left unchecked.

5. Scale insects attach themselves to the stems or underside of leaves and suck plant sap, resulting in yellowed foliage and stunted growth.

6. Caterpillars are the larvae of moths and butterflies and feed on foliage, resulting in holes in leaves.

7. Thrips are tiny, slender insects that feed on plant tissues and inject a toxin into the plant which can cause distortion of leaves.

8. Mealybugs are small, soft-bodied insects covered with a cottony wax. They feed on plant sap, weakening the plant and leading to stunted growth.

Tips for Identifying and Controlling Both Beneficial and Pest Insects in the Garden

– Inspect your plants regularly for signs of insect activity. Look for holes in leaves, yellowed foliage, or wilted stems, and take action if you find any.

– Use natural methods such as handpicking when possible to remove pest insects from the garden.

– Introduce beneficial insects into the garden to help control populations of pests.

– Avoid using chemical insecticides in the garden as they can kill beneficial insects along with pests.

– Plant a variety of flowering plants to attract beneficial insects and provide them with food sources throughout the season.

– Keep plants healthy by making sure they have sufficient water and nutrients, as healthier plants are better able to resist infestations.


In conclusion, beneficial insects play a vital role in maintaining the health and biodiversity of your garden. Ladybugs, bees, butterflies, lacewings, praying mantises, and ground beetles are all examples of beneficial insects that can help control pest populations while protecting plants from damage. Conversely, aphids, cutworms whiteflies, Japanese beetles, caterpillars, and mealybugs are some common pests to look out for in your garden.

To ensure you have healthy plants throughout the season it’s important to inspect regularly for signs of insect activity and use natural methods such as handpicking or introducing beneficial insects when possible. Be sure to further study the types of helpful and harmful bugs found in your area – with knowledge comes power!