Attracting beneficial insects

There are two ways to get beneficials into your yard. You can order them from a supply house such as Evergreen Grower's Supply or Arbico-Organics or you can plant flowers and other plants that will provide habitat for the beneficials. We have ordered beneficials from both of this supply locations and been very satisfied with the quality of insects received.

If you want to attract beneficials into your yard, follow these steps to setup habitat and then watch for results!

Many insects can survive drinking dew and the nectar from flowers, however, others need an occasional drink of water or some portion of their life cycle occurs in water. You can include water in the form of a pond or a simple water feature. For best access, make sure there is a shallow area for insects. I have a bird bath with a layer of rocks in it to keep one edge shallow.

Insects need shelter and a place to overwinter. Rather than cutting down perennial flowers in the fall when they are finished blooming, leave them until spring to serve as shelters. Include small rock piles and/or piles of prunings in your landscape. Shrubs or hedges also make great homes for insects.

There are many lists of plants used to attract beneficial insects. Some serve as food or attractants, some as places to lay their young and others as shelters. To keep beneficials around, you will need a variety of plants that bloom throughout the season and there should be several blooming at the same time just in case one dies.

Some excellent beneficial plants include:

P Caraway Carum carvi *
P Fennel Foeniculum vulgare *
P Goldenrod Solidago virgaurea  
A Dill Anethum graveolens  
A Coriander Coriandrum sativum  
P Queen Anne's lace Daucus carota *
A Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum  
P Yarrow, fernleaf Achillea filipendulina  
P Golden chamomile Anthemis tinctoria  
A Cosmos 'White Sensation' Cosmos bipinnatus *
A Marigold 'Lemon Gem' Tagetes tenuifolia  
P Tansy Tanacetum vulgare *
A Cornflower Centaurea cyanus *
A Alfalfa Medicago sativa *
A Parsley Petroselinum crispum  

* Indicates this plant is listed as an invasive species in some states.

Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture
USDA. Natural Resources Conservation Site