Most people might respond negatively to the idea of bugs in their yard or garden, especially when those bugs make their way into the home. But there are many beneficial bugs you should focus on cultivating, not the ones that bring destruction to your homesteading or sustainable gardening efforts, but the ones that are beneficial and help you with your natural pest control. Horticulture and permaculture efforts can provide long-term environments that are hospitable to good bugs, good bugs that can help you keep your yard, garden, and home free from detrimental pests.
Lady Bug / Ladybird
The Ladybird or Ladybugs (Coccinella magnifica) , sometimes called lady beetles, are great bugs to find around your home because it means your environmentally friendly and sustainable pest control solutions are well on their way to success. Nobody likes to find their beautiful pepper plants covered in spider mites or aphids, and it can be incredibly challenging to alleviate these bugs before they suck the life force from your food. But ladybugs have voracious appetites and will clean your plants in no time.
How to encourage ladybugs:
If you want to encourage ladybugs, you can plant Dill, fennel, Angelica, or Yarrow. They will happily fly to your organic garden if you offer them any of these attractive plants. Other flowering plants you can incorporate into your garden include sunflowers, zinnias, dahlias, and daisies. Ladybugs do fly away though, so for sustainability you might consider growing these flowers in small patches around your garden permanently.
The praying mantis will eat just about any bug including wasps, crickets, and caterpillars. They are one of the most beneficial bugs to any homesteading environment and you might not even notice they are around except when your bugs disappear from sight. The praying mantis blends in quite well with its environment and likes to hide.
How to encourage the praying mantis:
If you want to encourage the praying mantis, you need to provide them with a hiding spot. They love ground cover plants under which they can hide, especially things like hostas. Placing a shallow dish of water in between rocks in your garden will give a praying mantis a place to drink but it should not be big enough to attract mosquitoes. You can always add 1 tbsp of sugar to 10 parts of water in your shallow dish. They will love the blooms from Marigolds or Dill so these can be planted in and around your herb garden for extra success.
When you head out to your compost pile and start digging around, you might see some sleeping ground beetles. Notable for their shiny black bodies, these bugs should be left to their own devices if you find them around your home.
Nocturnal ground beetles are voracious predators and in any organic garden they will eat away things like cabbage maggots, slugs, cutworms, and snails.
How to encourage ground beetles:
If you want to encourage ground beetles as part of your permaculture project, they prefer habitats of white clovers or perennials which you can easily grow as ground cover around the perimeter of your organic garden. For long-term sustainability you can create a beetle bank or a raised swath of flowering plants and perennial grasses throughout your yard where beetles can mature uninterrupted. You can currently provide leaf mulch harbors near your compost heaps or strategically placed logs along the borders of your organic garden.
Similarly, you might see a more reddish orange beetle hanging around your garden, and these are known as the soldier beetle. Soldier beetles are particularly useful in any permaculture setting because they will naturally feed on aphids and caterpillars, getting rid of some of the peskiest of pests.
How to encourage soldier beetles:
If you want to encourage Soldier beetles, you can plant things like hydrangeas, Goldenrod, or catnip around your organic garden and they will naturally flock to lend a hand in alleviating harmful bugs. Soldier beetles like regular weeds such as milkweed, wild lettuce, or Goldenrod so if this is growing somewhere in your yard, leave it. You can also maintain permanent plantings for these plants in a particular section of your garden so that the Beatles can pupate without being disturbed. This should be someplace your dog doesn’t run, your chickens don’t peck through, and you don’t rotate crops.
Overall, there are plenty of bad bugs out there, and when they make their way into your home, you might need to ask for pest control help, but there are also ample good bugs around your home you should avoid killing; they can be your partner when it comes to natural sustainability and organic pest management.