Beneficial insects

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Many plants in the Asteraceae family attract beneficial insects.
For other uses of Beneficial see: Beneficial Bank and Beneficial weeds.

Beneficial insects (sometimes called beneficial bugs) are any of a number of species of insects that perform valued services like pollination and pest control. The concept of beneficial is subjective and only arises in light of desired outcomes from a human perspective. In farming and agriculture, where the goal is to raise selected crops, insects that hinder the production process are classified as pests, while insects that assist production are considered beneficial. In horticulture and gardening; pest control, habitat integration, and 'natural vitality' aesthetics are the desired outcome with beneficial insects.

Encouraging beneficial insects, by providing suitable living conditions, is a pest control strategy, often used in organic farming, organic gardening or Integrated Pest Management. Companies specializing in biological pest control sell many types of beneficial insects, particularly for use in enclosed areas, like greenhouses.

Types of beneficial insects[edit]

Bee boxes at an organic farm
Ladybirds are a beneficial insect commonly sold for biological control of aphids.
A European mantis hunts for prey on a shrub rose.
Encarsia formosa, an endoparasitic wasp, was one of the first biological control agents developed.

Some species of bee are beneficial as pollinators, although generally only efficient at pollinating plants from the same area of origin, facilitating propagation and fruit production for many plants. Also, some bees are predatory or parasitic, killing pest insects. This group includes not only honeybees, but also many other kinds that are more efficient at pollinating. Bees can be attracted by many companion plants, especially bee balm and pineapple sage for honeybees, or apiaceae like queen anne's lace and parsley, for predatory bees.

Ladybirds are generally thought of as beneficial because they eat large quantities of aphids, mites and other arthropods that feed on various plants.

Other insects commonly identified as beneficial include:[1]

Attractive plants[edit]

Plants in the Apiaceae and Asteraceae families are general valuable companions. Here are other plants that attract beneficial insects:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control", ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

Additional sources[edit]

External links[edit]