Beneficial Insects – Backyard Food Growing


There are many different insects out there and they’re not all bad. I think most of us know now that some bugs are good and the beneficial insects that call your garden home are doing a great service for you just while they go about their daily bug business. This is just a list of a few main points about each of them.

By ©entomartIn

Ant Lion: 1½ “
They are known for the fierce predatory habits of their larvae. In North America, the larvae is called a Doodlebug because of the tracks they leave, which look like a line of doodling. The larvae tend to hide under debris and leaf litter to ambush their prey.

The adults are nocturnal, have a short lifespan and are not often seen. The larvae look somewhat like a tiny beetle with large ant pinchers. They have a round body and 3 sets of walking legs. They hunt a large variety of insects and even small spiders.


Ground Beetle: ¾”
These guys are usually easy to recognize, they are most commonly shiny black with ridges on their wing covers (elytra).

They prefer to live under tree bark, rocks, logs and general garden debris.They are carnivorous and hunt any prey that they can over power.

Braconid Wasp: ¼”
These are one member of the parasitic wasp family. This means that they lay their eggs in or on the host insect or caterpillar. The host usually dies during the growth of the wasp larvae. They are effective against aphids.

Western Honey Bee: ¾” – 1″
The honey bee is a member of a huge family of bees, but this is the one that we are most familiar with because of it’s hives and commercial honey production. We rely on honey bees mainly for pollination, they are critical to our crop production. We also use the honey of course and the wax is used for candles, lip gloss and many other uses.

Dragonfly: 3″
Dragonflies are my favourite bug of all. I think they are elegant, majestic and very effective at eating a lot of other insects. They can be quite large and have big heads with very large compound eyes. They can fly backwards.

They are predators in both the larval stage and adult stage of life. Sometimes they are confused with Damselflies, which are smaller and more dainty than a dragonfly but still have the same body structure.

Lacewing: 3/8″
These are usually light green and have compound eyes. They have very dainty looking lace-like wings, which is where their name comes from. Their wings are not solid, the veins are lined with tiny hairs that enable them to fly. The larvae voraciously eat aphids.

They’re nocturnal and feed on mites, aphids,mealybugs, scale and other small arthropods. An arthropod is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and paired jointed appendages. They also like pollen, nectar and honeydew.
Buy Lacewing eggs here.

Ladybug: 1/8″
They are also known as Ladybirds in Britain. Most people like ladybugs and don’t have a problem with them being around, unlike some other bugs. They like to eat aphids, scale insects, cicadas, and leaf hoppers. Larvae can eat up to 25 aphids a day, adults eat 50 or more. Buy ladybug eggs here.

They can be yellow, orange or red with black spots but sometimes they have no spots.

Mason Bee: ¼” – ½”
The Mason bee uses mud to construct their nests, their masonry skills is how they got their name. They are solitary and don’t build hives like honey bees.

They prefer to live in other small holes or cavities under cement like a gap under a front step. They are often mistaken for common flies. The females don’t sting unless provoked. See this post for more on Mason bees.

By Shiva shankar
Taken at karkala, Karnataka

Praying Mantis: up to 5″
These are named as such because of how they hold their front legs, it resembles hands praying. They are found living worldwide in more tropical warm regions. They have triangular heads with big bulging compound eyes. They will eat bad bugs as well as good bugs.

They are usually ambush predators but some actively hunt their prey. They hunt mainly arthropods but will also hunt smaller mantises of the same species. The largest ones will eat small lizards, frogs and fish.

Syrphid Fly: ¼” – ½”
Also known as a Hover Fly because they hover over the flowers while looking for and sipping the sweet nectar. They love to eat aphids, thrips, mealybugs, scale and other plant sucking insects. They can be important pollinators too. Some Hover flies prefer to eat decaying plant and animal matter in the soil or in ponds and streams.

This is a short list of some of the helpful insects that can play a big role in keeping your garden healthy and free of the destructive insects.