Creating a Wild Backyard - Beneficial Bugs

Greening your Landscape - Beneficial Bug

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HalictidBee_KWixted.jpgDid you know that over 95% of the insects aren’t pests? Some bugs help pollinate fruits and vegetables while others take care of common garden pests. By limiting pesticide use in your yard and by providing the right type of plants, you can encourage beneficial bugs to inhabit your backyard habitat which will reduce your need for pesticides.

Steps to Encouraging Beneficial Bugs

  1. Design your garden or backyard to have blooming plants throughout the spring, summer and fall to provide nectar and pollen.
  2. Provide a water source.
  3. Provide shelter such as leaf litter on the ground or groundcovers.
  4. Have patience and tolerate a few pests until beneficial insects establish.
  5. Identify pest problems before treating and choose treatments according to the pest.
  6. Resist the urge to spray when you first see damage, and if spraying is necessary, consider using safer pesticides.

Least Toxic Pest Products


Active Ingredient

Lady Beetle photo by Kerry Wixted


Aphids Ladybugs
Caterpillars Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki
Fungal Problems Copper octonate
Extract of Neem oil
Potassium bicarbonate (85%)
General Insect Pests Capsaicin and related capsaicinoids
Extract of Neem oil
Fatty Acid Soap
Potassium salts of fatty acids
Predatory Fly (Robber fly) photo by Kerry Wixted
Lawn Pests
(Grubs and Fleas)
Cedar oil (2%)
Steinernema carpocapsae (Nematodes)
Mosquito Larvae Bacillus thuringiensis var. iseaeliensis (10%)
Snails and Slugs Iron phosphate (1%)
Note: While products like pyrethrum and rotenone are naturally-derived, they are broad spectrum insecticides which can kill both pests and beneficial insects. Therefore, it is best to use narrow spectrum insecticides when possible.


Common Beneficial Bugs




Assassin Bug 
Beetles, caterpillars, other bugs Sunflowers

Juvenile Assassin Bug photo by Kerry Wixted
Damsel Bugs
Caterpillar eggs, fleahoppers, leafhoppers and spider mites Clover
Damselflies & Dragonflies Mosquitoes, gnats and flying insects Open water, small ponds, open fields
Ground Beetles
Snails, slugs and root-feeding insects Stone pathways, clover & compost piles
Honey Bees Pollen and flower nectar Flowers such as asters & goldenrods
Lacewings Aphids, small caterpillars, whiteflies and thrips Nectar plants including geraniums Predatory Wasp (Pelecinid Wasp) photo by Kerry Wixted
Lady Bugs Aphids, scales, mites and soft-bodied pests Nectar plants including geraniums
Praying Mantis Other insects Flower & vegetable gardens
Predatory Flies Caterpillars, beetle larvae and sawflies Nectar plants
Predatory Wasps Other insects Pollen producing plants like fennel
Spiders Other insects Flower & vegetable gardens
Syrphid Flies Aphids, beetles, caterpillars and thrips Composites like dill, fennel and coreopsis
Wheel Bugs Caterpillars, moths, squash bugs, cucumber beetles Shrubs and trees

For Additional Information, Contact:

Kerry Wixted
Wildlife and Heritage Service
580 Taylor Ave, E-1
Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone: 410-260-8566
Fax: 410-260-8596​


All photos by Kerry Wixted