16 Beneficial Insects That Are Allies of Your Garden

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated March 9, 2022
Grandpa pushing wheelbarrow with granddaughter in it
Photo: Westend61 / Westend61 / Getty Images

Friends of fruit, buddies of the blossom, pals to the patch—give these bugs a warm welcome

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Whether insects fascinate or bug you, there are a few that you should openly invite to your flowers and crops. These garden avengers make a meal out of pest insects that destroy your plants. A few are also beneficial pollinators that keep your garden thriving year after year. Here are the top guests that you should welcome to your flowers, fruits, and veggies.

1. Butterflies

Aside from their beauty and breathtaking colors, having butterflies fluttering around your pollinator garden is also highly beneficial for your crops. They pollinate flowers, as well as fruit trees and bushes, enabling them to produce plentifully. While their caterpillar forms might snack on your crops, they typically won’t do significant damage.

2. Bees 

From the hardworking honeybee to the cute and fuzzy bumblebee, all types of bees are important pollinators for vegetables, fruits, and flowers in your garden. They are important pollinators that flit from flower to flower, enabling your plants to produce abundantly.

3. Dragonflies

Blue dragonfly on a plant
Photo: Ernst Himmelsbach / 500px / Getty Images

Another garden beauty, dragonflies are relentless bug eaters. If you’ve got a problem with soft-bodied insects ruining your garden, the dragonfly will help you while it helps itself.

4. Ladybugs

On top of being a lovely sight to behold, the brilliantly-colored ladybug is a great friend to your garden plants. These beneficial insects have a hearty appetite for a number of greedy garden pests, such as mites, aphids, and leafhoppers.

The Asian lady beetle, which looks very similar save for an orange body instead of red, also munches on these pests. While this can be good on a surface level, these bugs congregate in large numbers and eat up all the available food. They are generally considered a nuisance and believed to be at least partially liable for the decline of the ladybug population.

5. Green Lacewings

The green lacewing is an ethereal insect with an apple-green body and transparent wings almost resembling a fairy. Their larvae have an insatiable appetite for pest insects like spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and whitefly.  

6. Braconid Wasps 

Closeup of a braconid wasp on a leaf
Photo: Holcy / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The tiny black-and-brown braconid wasp can be a tremendous ally to your garden, particularly if you grow tomatoes. They mercilessly lay their eggs inside the tomato hornworm, eventually giving these tomato-destroying caterpillars a very unpleasant demise. They also target other pests such as aphids, beetles, and stink bugs.

7. Parasitic Wasps

While its name is undeniably creepy, the parasitic wasp is a friend that devours a huge range of garden pests. They’re also stingless, so there’s no need to fear them. Their daily menu consists of whiteflies, leaf miners, aphids, and a number of other harmful unwanted guests. They also infest and parasitize the eggs of tomato hornworms, European corn borers, cabbage worms, and others.

8. Praying Mantises

Praying mantis on a purple flower
Photo: Patti Cearley / 500px / Getty Images

If grasshoppers have become a literal plague in your garden, the ruthless praying mantis will snack with a bottomless appetite. They also make a multi-course meal of garden enemies such as flies, moths, and beetles. However, it’s worth noting that they might also prey on beneficial insects for your garden, like bees and butterflies. Especially hungry and fearless mantises may even target hummingbirds.

9. Spiders

Spiders are often the givers of heebie-jeebies, but they’re actually good buddies to your garden (and your home as well). While they’re technically an arachnid, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give them a spot on this list. They bring a terrifying end to a wide variety of bugs that can harm your garden. Go get ‘em, spider.

10. Ground Beetles

Green ground beetle on a dandelion
Photo: ErikAgar / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Ground beetles are a group of different types of predatory beetles. Both adults and larvae nom caterpillars, thrips, silverfish, slugs, weevils, and other harmful bugs. They may not be the best to look at, but their hunger is very beneficial to your plants.

11. Robber Flies

Robber flies are aptly named, for they rob harmful garden bugs of their lives. They feast on pest insects like leafhoppers, white grubs, and grasshoppers. However, if you see them around, keep your distance—they bite when they’re upset.

12. Minute Pirate Bugs

Minute pirate bugs are minuscule in size, but they have a voracious appetite for spider mites, thrips, and aphids. You might not notice their presence amongst your plants, but they’ll be hard at work if they’re around.

13. Hoverflies

Closeup of a hoverfly perched on a white flower
Photo: Rosita So Image / Moment / Getty Images

Also called syrphid flies, drones flies, or flower flies, hoverflies are another cold-blooded killer of garden pests. They resemble a tiny wasp, but never fear: They don’t bite or sting. They’re highly efficient at controlling bugs such as aphids, scale insects, and caterpillars.

14. Damsel Bugs

Not to be confused with the dragonfly’s relative, the damselfly, damsel bugs love to munch on pests in your garden. These soft-bodied insects target detrimental intruders such as small caterpillars, aphids, and moth eggs.

15. Assassin Bugs

Assassin bug perched on little yellow flowers
Photo: Jasius / Moment / Getty Images

As the name suggests, assassin bugs are fierce predators for the unwanted bugs in your garden. They have sharp mouthparts to stab their victims and inject them with digestive juice or venom. These tough and scary insects bring a painful end to garden nuisances like leafhoppers, aphids, stink bugs, and caterpillars.

16. Aphid Midges

Aphid midges target one of the most ubiquitous and worst garden bugs: aphids. While various beneficial garden insects happily nom aphids, aphid midges make them their favored menu option.  

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.