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Grow with KARE: Getting 'good' insects in your garden

Beetles get a bad wrap in the garden, but ground beetles are good guys that deserve a welcome.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn — Get over the idea that all bugs in the garden are bad. There are some bugs that are big helpers amongst our veggies and there are specific things you can do to attract those good guys.

First up, braconid wasps. But these aren’t the black and yellow wasps that build nests above the front door. They can sting, but braconid wasps are not interested in humans. What they can do is help with pests like tomato hornworms and other worms and caterpillars. They lay their eggs on the worms and when those eggs hatch, the larva feeds on the hornworm, killing it. The wasps also feed on nectar and pollinate your fruits, flowers, and veggies!

Not to be confused with Asian beetles, ladybugs are a big friend in the garden. They have a mean appetite for aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, potato beetles, mites, fleas and more! Attracting ladybugs is as easy as planting some dill or yarrow around the edge of your garden.

Green lacewings are not only beautiful, but they are also helpful at keeping aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies and leafhoppers in check. Lacewings love herbs, coreopsis, cosmos and sunflowers so include some of these in your garden.

Beetles get a bad wrap in the garden. But ground beetles are good guys that deserve welcome. Ground beetles are black with grooves on their backs. They patrol the ground looking for cutworms, snails, caterpillars and slugs so you want these guys around. Using mulch in your garden gives ground beetles the environment they seek.

Three cheers for these hard workers that keep our gardens healthy and thriving.

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