Benefits of Scary or Bad Insects in Your Garden

Enjoy learning about the beneficial insects you want in your garden to keep it healthy and protected.

| October 2018

  • ants
    Ants are beneficial in a garden setting because they eat weeds, aerate the soil, and clean away dead insects and birds.
    Photo by Getty/frank600
  • bees
    Bees are beneficial because of their need to gather nectar and pollen, which they do by going from flower to flower helping to pollinate the entire garden.
    Photo by Getty/danos44
  • beetles
    Beetles are beneficial garden insects because of their tendencies to eat other harmful insects.
    Photo by Getty/ivkuzmin
  • Caterpillar
    Caterpillars are sources of high-protein for young birds and if they evolve they turn into beautiful moths and butterflies.
    Photo by Getty/Ruth Swan
  • earwigs
    Earwigs may have a scary appearance, but they are useful and beneficial in breaking down decaying organic material.
    Photo by Getty/epantha
  • Slug
    Slugs are tasty snacks for snakes and skunks, but if left unchecked they can increase in numbers and be a pest in your garden.
    Photo by Getty/ait
  • tomato hornworm
    These tomato hornworms will devastate your tomato crop and should be picked off by hand when you see them.
    Photo by Getty/Grabillcreative
  • wasps
    Wasps are protective over their nests and their young, so it is best to avoid them unless they have nested in an unsafe area. Besides their protective nature wasps are also apart of nature's cleaning grew, taking care of dead insect remains.
    Photo by Getty/Antagain
  • book cover
    “The Guide to Humane Critter Control: Natural, Nontoxic Pest Solutions to Protect Your Yard and Garden” is a guide to understanding and handling pests that appear in your garden in a humane and natural way. Instead of killing or destroying the pests readers can learn ways to deter them and mitigate or prevent damage that may be done to their gardens.
    Cover courtesy Cool Springs Press

  • ants
  • bees
  • beetles
  • Caterpillar
  • earwigs
  • Slug
  • tomato hornworm
  • wasps
  • book cover

The Guide to Humane Critter Control: Natural, Nontoxic Pest Solutions to Protect Your Yard and Garden (Cool Springs Press, 2017) by Theresa Rooney is a different approach to handling the pest in your garden in a humane and natural way. This book encourages readers to try alternative methods to killing or destroying pests such as deterring them or preventing the damage they might do in a garden. By introducing new techniques for dealing with garden pests, animal and insect populations do not decrease and the natural balance remains healthy between all species. Learning which plants, insects, and gardening products are safe and can coexist the best together leads to a successful garden that effectively takes care of itself.


They eat lots of weed seeds, aerate the soil, and clean away some of the dead insects and birds. Ants may also milk aphids. If you see them on plants look for aphids. They are a clue for the gardener.


Most beetles are beneficial. They eat lots of other insects and clean up dead insects and birds. They are also good at aerating the soil.


They may sting and buzz noisily and can seem scary, but most are shy and gentle and just want to do their business of gathering nectar and pollen for their colony or their young. If a honey bee stings you, she will die. The stinger usually gets stuck in your skin and, when the bee tries to pull away, it rips out of the abdomen—making stinging you a last resort. Most native bees and bumblebees can sting you many times, but they seldom sting at all unless you threaten them.


Many of these insects turn into beautiful, gentle butterflies or moths. All are a favorite food for adult birds to feed to their young. Young birds need high-protein diets and caterpillars are the perfect food.


They look scary but really are not. Earwigs eat decaying organic matter, breaking it down even further. Usually, they don't bother plants unless their numbers are very high or other food sources are very low.



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