Pests That Are Actually Good for Your Yard and Garden
Pests That Are Actually Good for Your Yard and Garden
Pests That Are Actually Good for Your Yard and Garden

Nature has its way of keeping things in balance, especially when it comes to growing grass, flowers, vegetables, and everything else that comes from the good earth. Insects and pests are known as destructive little critters, but not all bugs are bad for the yard and garden. Beneficial insects keep the greenery healthy, and decomposing microorganisms break down organic matter to enrich yard and garden soil.

Beneficial Bugs, Birds, and Butterflies

Bugs are bugs but they’re not all pests. You may want to get rid of ants in your home and yard — and rightfully so — but it’s good to know which insects do their job in keeping the balance. Beneficial insects are categorized in three ways: Predators, pollinators, and parasites.

  • Predators eat other insects. Some of the more well-known preds are praying mantis, green lacewings, and ladybugs.
  • Pollinators like bees, flies, birds, butterflies, and moths feed pollen to wildflowers, trees, bushes, and garden flowers.
  • Parasites lay eggs in the “bad” bugs. When the eggs hatch, larvae feed on the host insects. Parasitic wasps are in this category.

Learning about the beneficial bugs in your Ohio or Kentucky garden will help you target the bad ones for extermination — if the predators haven’t got there first. 

Predatory Insects

Predatory insects are the ones that prey on the “bad” bugs. They eat the bugs that eat your flowers, so having them around will help your garden thrive.

Ladybugs. Ohio’s “official” insect is the bright red ladybug, a pretty but ferocious predator that munches on soft-bodied insects – aphids are a favorite. Also called lady beetles, there are many types of ladybugs in the Buckeye State. One type is the Asian lady beetle with an orange-brown body and dark spots.

Ladybugs eat mostly aphids but also spider mites, mealybugs, and borers.  

Green Lacewings. Light green with delicate lacy wings, lacewings are ¾ inch long and mostly live near aphid colonies. Adults feed on pollen, nectar, and honeydew. Lacewings eat soft-bodied insects, especially in spring, fall, and summer.  

Ground Beetles. Unlike destructive Japanese beetles (which should be controlled in the garden), ground beetles will eat thrips, weevils, silverfish, slugs, and caterpillars.  

Praying Mantids. Hungry and ready to battle, a praying mantis will go after moths, beetles, aphids, caterpillars, locusts, spiders, and flies. But these predatory insects will also go after pollinators like butterflies, bees, and even hummingbirds, so you have to maintain balance with these.  

Other predatory insects that help in the garden include hoverflies, robber flies, assassin bugs, and parasitic wasps.


If you want a better landscape, you need pollinating bugs. Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male anther to the female pistil. Pollination is necessary for plants to make fruits, buds, and seeds. While many plants are pollinated through the blowing wind, others rely on insects, birds, and other animals to carry pollen from flower to flower.

Bees. One of the most well-known pollinating insects, it is important to know your bees.  There are over 500 species in our area! Bumblebees, honey bees, carpenter bees — they all have a job to do, and they all pollinate.

Birds. Birds are special pollinators, bringing pollen from one flower to another. It’s a beautiful sight, especially when hummingbirds sip nectar and hover from flower to flower. 

Butterflies and moths are important so-called “pests” that help to keep our floral world colorful. 


Parasitic bugs, like cuckoo wasps, lay eggs in nests of other insects. When the wasp egg hatches, its larva feeds on the nested pupae, killing the host larvae. Cuckoo wasps are bright blue or metallic green, with a slim body and short legs. Cuckoo wasps are NOT known to be harmful to people. 

Most parasitoids are wasps, bees, and flies.

Tending to your garden takes a lot of trial and error, time, and patience. Learning about the good, bad, and ugly bugs will help you understand more about what makes your garden grow.

Teri Silver is a journalist and outdoor enthusiast. She and her husband live on 5 acres with a vast lawn, three gardens, a farm, a pond, many trees, and a lot of yard work! The best parts of the year are summer and fall when home-grown veggies are on the dinner table.

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