Feel like bugs are taking over your backyard? Don’t sweat it—of all the millions of insects in the world, the vast majority of them are entirely harmless. And many of them stand ready to keep the “bad” bug population in check. Some of the most prolific predators are assassin bugs, ground beetles, minute pirate bugs, and—of course—ladybugs. These pest control workers will quickly find their way to any flowers that are rich in pollen and nectar. But the secret to keeping them on the job in your yard is to follow this recruitment policy:
- Lay off pesticides. I know that’s a frightening thought if you’ve been using them for a long time, but you can bet your bottom dollar that if you quit cold turkey, throngs of good guys will show up and start chowing down on the bag bugs in no time flat.
- Give them a drink. Sink a few plant saucers into the ground, set some pebbles inside, and pour in water. It gives insects—and insect eaters like toads, frogs, birds, and bats—a place to quench their thirst.
- Mix it up. Plant a mixed bag of flowers, herbs, veggies, trees, and shrubs. The more menu and shelter options you offer up, the more kinds of helpers will come a callin’—and the more kinds of pests they’ll polish off.
- Go native. If you want a first-class dream team on your side, look for plants that are native to your neck of the woods. I guarantee that local heroes will flock to your doorstep!
If you’re confused about what kinds of flowers to plant, don’t worry. Although a few bugs have very definite tastes, most are pleased as punch with any flower that’s rich in pollen and nectar. But it’s important to plant a mixture of flowers so that something will always be in bloom throughout the growing season. That way, you’ll attract a variety of insects and they’ll always have flowers to sip from. Surefire winners include asters, cosmos, mint, morning glories, and yarrow.
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