Disclosure: Some links may be affiliate links. If you buy an item via links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
There are some bugs that you want to keep well away from your backyard, but others can be hugely beneficial. In this guide, we will explain the reasons why you should be attracting insects to your backyard, and we will also cover the best ways of enticing them.
Benefits of Attracting Good Bugs to Your Backyard
If you’ve been thinking about attracting good bugs to your garden, you’re about to reap a whole world of benefits. These little critters aid pollination, keep your soil fertile and allow you to get closer to nature without having to leave home. Let’s take a closer look at how bugs can be an advantage.
They Assist with Pollination
It’s a sad fact that pollinators are declining at an alarming rate, so there has never been a better time to welcome them to your backyard. While you might not think it, pollinators are so important for your garden as they allow for the reproduction of plants and trees as well as aiding in fruit and flower production.
And it’s not just in your own backyard. Without pollinators, our food supply would likely dwindle since as many as 150 crops in the US rely on these little creatures to grow. In fact, as much as $10 million worth of crops are created each year thanks to pollinators!
There are many different types of pollinators, including hummingbirds and butterflies. But the most common is the bee. These creatures are responsible for pollinating up to 80% of the food sources across the entire planet!
But what’s worrying is that their natural habitats are being so interfered with that they’re unable to do their job properly. Creating a safe and natural space for them in your backyard could increase their numbers once more; but only if as many of us as possible get on board.
Bugs Attract Other Wildlife to Your Garden
For many of us, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to see wildlife up close and personal, but by bringing good bugs to your garden, other wildlife will follow. This allows you to create your very own nature sanctuary at home, and the reward will be that you can observe an array of creatures from a front-row seat.
Not only this, but other types of wildlife need your help to stay abundant. Without insects for food, things like birds, amphibians, small mammals, and many other types of animals could be in danger.
Bugs Keep Your Soil Fertile
It all comes down to the circle of life. With fertile soil, you can grow plants. With plants, you can attract bugs, and those bugs feed other wildlife. But they also help to keep the soil fertile so the process can start all over again.
There are some bugs that are called decomposers. Their job is to turn organic matter like fallen leaves and dead animals back into simpler materials that create nutrient-rich soil.
There is a type of organic matter known as humus which is created through the bacterial breakdown of larger organic materials. This humus is filled with nutrients and can help to protect soil and all that grows in it. Critters like beetles and earthworms redistribute humus ensuring healthy soil all over your backyard.
They Help with Pest Management
It doesn’t take us to tell you that there are some bugs that aren’t as welcome in your garden. They can cause problems for plant life and soon become a pest. While it is possible to buy pest repellent sprays, these can be harmful to the environment. But attracting good bugs to your backyard is a natural yet effective way to control pests.
Many of the beneficial bugs that come to your garden will prey on pests. For example, ladybugs and green lacewings will devour aphids, while damsel and minute pirate bugs will deal with caterpillars. If you have a problem with slugs, then attracting ground beetles could solve the problem.
Brings You Closer to Nature
Even the most city-loving among us realize the importance of spending time in nature. In fact, it has been shown that connecting with nature can improve mental health.
If you can’t get out to nature, then why not bring it to you? Building something like an insect hotel is a great way to connect with bugs, and the wildlife that follows will certainly strengthen the bond between you and Mother Nature.
If you have children, this is a great activity as it will educate them on the importance of caring for insects as well as removing any fear.
How to Attract Beneficial Bugs to Your Backyard
Attracting beneficial bugs to your backyard doesn’t need to be a challenge. There are a lot of ways you can do this that are incredibly simple.
1. Grow Native Plants
There’s no need to worry about attracting non-native species or even buying these and releasing them. You should place your focus on bringing in insects that already live in the area. You can easily do this by creating a natural habitat using native plants.
You’ll need flowers that are rich in nectar and pollen, as well as including fruit trees in your backyard, as these too will attract pollinators when they flower. Including as many native plants as possible will help to support a much wider range of species and will be hugely beneficial to your garden.
Bees can often feed from a wider selection of flowers, but the majority of pollinators struggle with tubular flowers. So, try to include as many shallow flowers as you can. While there is a huge range of native plants to choose from, the following are a good place to start:
- Plum trees
- Apple trees
- Pear trees
- Peach or apricot tree
- Common boneset
- Native buckwheat
- Sweet alyssum
- Shasta daisy
- Prairie coneflower
- Mountain mint
- Golden Alexanders
2. Diversity is Key
A study has shown that bringing a wider range of plants into your backyard supports biodiversity. The results of this research compared planting an abundance of a single species with planting a range of blooms and the latter won by a long shot.
When looking to attract insects to your garden, you need to be prepared to be very diverse in the types of flowers you plant. Of course, as per our previous suggestion, you’ll also need to keep everything native.
The reason for this diversity is that different bugs have different needs. For example, ground insects like beetles benefit from things like evergreen plants and dense foliage whereas you’ll find spiders crawling around in less dense greenery, around flower beds.
Take the time to research native species and find out exactly what their needs are. This will allow you to create a much more welcoming space for as many creatures as possible.
3. Install a Water Feature
The most effective water feature you could include in your garden is a pond, but if you don’t have room, then something like a birdbath would also work well. Just remember to pop in some pieces of cork to give the bugs a place to land.
By having a pond, you instantly create a haven for a much wider variety of creatures. For example, dragonflies, pond skaters, and water beetles will all be attracted to the area.
Not only this, but since pollinators need water as much as other animals, this water source will provide them with everything they need. As a direct result of this, they will be less stressed and more easily able to do their job.
However, keep in mind that mosquitoes, which are considered pests, are also attracted to water. To avoid too many of these visitors, keep the pond as clean and well maintained as possible.
4. Avoid Using Pesticides & Herbicides
Pesticides are designed to kill and deter bugs and that’s the be-all and end-all of it. This means that they will harm all insects, including the ones you are trying to attract. Even if they don’t actually land on the plants, any residue from nearby treated plants could be enough to cause a problem.
The best approach to dealing with pests is to use more organic methods like manual removal of pests. Also, keep in mind that there has been evidence to suggest that ornamental plants bought from retailers have often been chemically treated, and you’re then bringing this into your garden, so be careful where you buy from.
5. Create a Natural Habitat for Bugs
As well as planting the correct flora, you’ll also need to consider other aspects of the bug’s natural habitat. Again, all bugs are different and have varying needs, but one way to meet several of these needs at once is to make a bug box or insect hotel.
These structures contain various habitats for different insects. For example, you’ll include bamboo tubes for bees and wood shavings for ladybugs. Make crevices with things like acorns for invertebrates or choose columns for lacewing flies.
You can buy premade insect hotels, but making your own is a fun project, especially if you’re trying to educate your children.
If you don’t want to use a bug box, you can create several areas around your garden where bugs can breed, feed, and hide. This includes things like rock piles and log piles. Fallen leaves around these will attract decomposers like earthworms.
6. Avoid Excessive Mowing
We’ve all been conditioned into thinking that a neat, short lawn is best. And it is if you want your garden to look perfectly manicured. But wild lawns are coming into fashion and these are hugely beneficial when it comes to attracting bugs.
Lots of little plants like cowslip, clover, and daisies grow on your lawn, and these are excellent for pollinators. But every time you mow, you take these away. Leave the lawn for just a month in summer and create a welcoming habitat for local insects.
7. Create a Compost Heap
Making a compost heap is very simple, even if it is just a small wooden box. For compact yards, something that’s just a square meter will suffice. Of course, you can go bigger if you wish.
In any case, your compost heap will quickly become a haven for all kinds of bugs as well as other types of wildlife like birds.
What’s even better is that this is a sustainable way of getting rid of organic waste and since there’s a huge focus on this, you’ll be doing your bit for the planet.
8. Plant at Differing Heights
We’ve already discussed the importance of planting a good variety of plants but the height is also an important factor to consider. This is because, as we have already discovered, different bugs have different requirements.
Things like beetles will need low-growing plants that offer good cover at ground level. On the other hand, lacewings need plants that offer a shady spot to lay their eggs. Again, it’s important to figure out what insects are local and plant according to their needs.
9. Let Certain Parts of Your Garden Grow Wild
Not everything in your garden has to be perfectly polished. It’s an excellent idea to allow some parts of the yard to grow wild. This better mimics the natural habitat of the bugs you are looking to attract, so more of them will come.
You can try letting plants grow a little ‘out of control’ as well as placing piles of twigs, branches, leaves, and other organic matter. We aren’t saying that you have to totally neglect your backyard but choose a small area, a hidden one if you prefer, and let things get as crazy as possible.
Where is the Best Place to Put a Bug Box?
Keep in mind that you don’t have to only create one bug box. Since different species have different requirements in terms of placement, it’s entirely possible to cater to all of these needs using two or more insect hotels.
Generally speaking, bugs like somewhere slightly damp. Unless we’re talking about bees who love a warm and sunny position. Everything else will need to be in a sheltered location well out of any breezes or winds.
When setting up your bug box, keep in mind that insects will more likely come quickly if it is located somewhere they naturally are attracted to. Near lots of plants and flowers or alongside a pond or water feature is ideal.
How to Get Rid of Pests Naturally Without Pesticides?
Using chemical pesticides is not good for your plants, it’s not good for local wildlife, and it’s not good for the planet. So, it goes without saying that using them should be avoided. The good news is that there are several ways to take an effective organic approach.
Attract Beneficial Insects
One of the best and most simple ways to remove unwanted pests from your backyard is to invite in good bugs. You can use any of the ways we have discussed in this guide to do this, and you should start to notice a significant difference.
If for any reason, bugs are not naturally coming to your garden, it is possible to buy them and release them into the yard.
Beer isn’t only great for relaxing after a long day. This mild alcoholic drink can be a lifesaver when it comes to getting rid of pests. All you need to do is fill a bowl with beer and place this in your garden.
It’s perfect for getting rid of things like snails and slugs who will be attracted to it. But they’ll fall into the bowl and drown. Thinking about this, you must make sure that the bowl and beer are deep enough, and you’ll need to keep kids and pets well away.
We all have dish soap at home and this is a very effective method for dealing with pests. You’ll need to be mindful about how much you use as it is possible to go over the top and harm your plants. Make sure to only use mild dish soap and only add around one to two teaspoons for every quart of water. You can then spray the mixture onto plant leaves and repeat until the problem desists.
Neem oil comes from the seeds of the neem tree, and this is a super strong and effective organic pesticide. It’s great for combatting bugs at any life stage, so it’s something we would recommend always having on hand.
You can buy neem oil at food markets and garden centers, and since this powerful oil disrupts the hormones of the pests, it works wonders. What’s more, it’s not harmful to wildlife or pets and is also able to deal with other plant-related problems like fungal diseases.