So-called "good bugs" are an effective means of controlling destructive insects in a garden or greenhouse without the use of chemicals that harm beneficial insects like bees. Natural methods of pest control incorporate beneficial bugs.

One of the best ways to control pests organically is through the use of beneficial predatory insects. Sometimes all that's needed is to encourage the natural predators that already live in your yard. If you have a particular insect problem, you will need to take steps to increase insect predator populations. One of the best ways to control pests in your garden is to encourage these natural enemies. Planting pollen and nectar plants and providing protection for beneficial insects are the basic tenets of organic gardening. These increase ecological diversity in a yard. The three ‘P’s’ for beneficial insects are pollinators, predators and parasites. A general rule is to designate 5-10 percent of your garden to plants that attract beneficial insects. Another important rule is to plant so that something is blooming all year, if possible. Beneficial insects will not stay or survive if no food is available.

Ladybugs are probably the most popular predatory insect. Aphids are their favorite food and they can't get enough.

Predatory nematodes are used for controlling insects that live any part of their life cycle in soil. They prey on destructive insects like flea beetle larvae, Japanese beetle grubs and cut worms but are not harmful to earthworms or plants.

Predatory Mites (Phytoseiulus persimilis) have been used commercially for years and are an effective biological control for the two-spotted spider mite. They don't bite people, feed on other insects, or injure plants. Spider mites love to eat plants and, in turn, predatory mites love to eat them.

Hoverflies or syrphid flies, are often seen hovering above or nectaring on flowers. The adults of many species feed mainly on nectar and pollen, while the larvae (maggots) eat a wide range of foods. In some species, larvae eat decaying plant and animal matter in soil, ponds and streams. In other species, the larvae are insectivores that prey on aphids, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects.

Braconid Wasps are a family of parasitic wasps that make up the second largest family in the order Hymenoptera (which includes butterflies) with approximately 17,000 recognized species and many thousands that have yet to be described.

Mantises are generalist predators of arthropods. A generalist species is able to flourish in a wide variety of environmental conditions using a variety of different resources. The majority of mantises are ambush predators that only feed on live prey within reach. They either camouflage themselves and remain stationary waiting for prey to approach or stalk their prey with stealthy movements. Larger mantises sometimes eat smaller individuals of their own species as well as small vertebrates such as lizards, frogs, and small birds.

Many types of beneficial insects can be purchased at garden centers or ordered by mail. There are hundreds of different types of beneficial predator insects, but not all of them are available commercially. In order to purchase the correct one for your specific situation, be sure about what pest or pests you are targeting. Some of the most popular commercially available predatory insects are ladybugs, beneficial nematodes, fly parasite, fungus gnat predator, lacewings, praying mantis, whitefly parasites, and predatory mites.

Steps to succeeding with beneficial bugs:

  1. Diagnose The Problem: Before you begin, know exactly what kind of insect pest is damaging your garden in order to know which predator insect you need. Understand the habits of the insect you’re ordering and familiarize yourself with its habitat.
  2. An order from a mail-order company should come with detailed instructions on how to release the insects you've purchased. For best results, release the bugs in small batches in the early morning or late evening after watering the garden.
  3. Keep your garden watered well and free of chemicals, especially pesticides.
  4. Don't rake up and remove every leaf. Leave a little bit of leaf litter for shelter as well as to give beneficial insects a place to lay their eggs.
  5. Try to keep something blooming in order to provide pollen and nectar. Wildflowers are especially attractive to beneficial predators. Grow as many of them as possible in your garden and yard.

Give predator insects time to establish themselves in your environment. Beneficial predatory insects aren’t a quick fix. They’re one step in creating a balanced organic environment in which problems will tend to resolve themselves. It may take several seasons for a natural predator-prey ecosystem to develop in your yard, but the wait will be worth it.

Click here for a list of 14 beneficial insects used for permanent garden pest control along with plants that will attract them.

(Credits: category/natural-pest-control/beneficial-insects; https//[-nasty-pests-out-of-your-garden;; photos top tp bottom: By Alvesgaspar (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons; By Aleksey Gnilenkov from Moscow, Russia (Tetranychus urticae (Koch, 1836)) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons): ; By Stsmith (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons; By Shiva shankar (Taken at karkala, Karnataka as a praying mantis) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons; By J.M.Garg (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)