Gardening with beneficial insects

When considering organic gardening, we have to consider the environmental impact of conventional gardening.

Environment and philosophy

Sonia Chartier

21 April 2016

Many studies have been done about the mixture of pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides. Reports show serious immune, hormonal or neurological impacts of the current toxicity levels of our groundwater…


Pesticides are also nondiscriminatory, meaning they kill beneficial insects as well as harmful ones. Harmful chemicals are thought to attribute to bee colony collapse, and affect butterflies and other pollinators necessary to grow food.

Along with chemical pesticides, fertilizers are thought to contribute to a decrease in plant food nutrients, which affect all species. And because of the nondiscriminatory way in which these chemicals work, we may have yet to discover how much they are affecting animals directly, although we do know that 67 million birds and up to 14 million fish killed each year due to pesticide exposure.

Beneficial insects 101, good bugs for your garden  

Danger lurks in a backyard garden. Aphids, cutworms, mealybugs and other pests are preying on your vegetables and flowers. But organic gardeners can turn to these “good bugs” to help rescue their gardens, naturally, as opposed to nasty, expensive chemicals.

Top 5 most beneficial “good bugs”:

  1. Aphid midge: The larvae of this tiny, long-legged fly feed on more than 60 species of aphids by paralyzing their prey with toxic saliva. Pollen plants will bring aphid midges to your garden.
  2. Lady beetles: Adult lady beetles eat aphids, mites, and mealybugs, and their hungry larvae do even more damage to garden pests. Plant angelica, coreopsis, dill, fennel, and yarrow to attract them.
  3. Tachinid Flies: Tachinid fly larvae burrow their way into many caterpillars, destroying these garden pests from the inside. Plant dill, parsley, sweet clover, and other herbs to attract adult flies.
  4. Lacewings: Both adult lacewings and their larvae eat aphids, caterpillars, mealybugs, scales, thrips, and whiteflies. Angelica, coreopsis, cosmos, and sweet alyssum will bring lacewings to your garden.
  5. Soldier beetles: The soldier beetle feeds on aphids, caterpillars, and other insects, including harmless and beneficial species. Attract this flying insect by planting catnip, goldenrod, and hydrangea.

An aspect of using biological control and natural enemies to control pests that can frustrate some growers is that they are not a quick fix. It may take up to five weeks to notice a decline in pest insects, but remember, this is a long-term solution that will ultimately lead to healthier plants and a healthier ecosystem.

Maintaining a good insect habitat is key for keeping these good bugs happy. Choose plants that provide plenty of food. In general, insects will eat pollen and nectar from plants with small flowers. Attractive annuals and perennials can be sown throughout vegetable rows or planted as a border around the garden.

The philosophy of the eminent Swiss naturopath, Alfred Vogel, encourages the use of biodynamic and organic agriculture in the creation of A.Vogel products, therefore avoiding the use of harmful chemicals altogether. A.Vogel is a leader in organic agriculture and heirloom seed cultivation.