You can be helpful to pollinator insects such as honey bees (like Beatrice), butterflies, carpenter bees and hoverflies and enjoy a lovely floral display at the same time. The trouble with attracting pollinators, and any kind of wildlife actually, is that you don’t get to choose what comes into your yard and what doesn’t. In addition to attracting beautiful butterflies and adorable fuzzy bees, you will also find you have aphids, scale, wasps and (of course) caterpillars. Beneficial insects which feed on these rather destructive garden pests such as ladybugs, lacewings, and praying mantis will find your garden, too.
Here’s a few tips to attract pollinators and beneficial insects.
- Plant flowers. Anything is better than just a blue grass lawn. Each month, Beatrice has been telling us what she’s enjoying. I’ve compiled a complete list of her favorites in a separate blog post.
- Minimize the use of pesticides, even organic ones. Insecticides don’t discriminate between the “good” bugs and the “bad” ones so be sure you’ve carefully identified the problem bug and that a chemical solution is really necessary. ALWAYS read the instructions and NEVER exceed the maximum dosage if you do decide to use a pesticide. To avoid harming pollinators, don’t spray trees, shrubs or any other plants while they are in flower.
- Provide a water source. A shallow bird bath bowl is great for insects to also get a drink. Some pollinators prefer a mud puddle, so if you have a spot that you don’t mind being muddy, butterflies in particular will thank you.
- Provide shelter. There are several kinds of “bug boxes” available – for butterflies and native bees which can be very welcoming. Shrubs and trees also provide shelter for insects, so in addition to pollen and nectar producing plants, a hedgerow or windbreak helps to attract insect and other wildlife into your yard.
A pollinator garden is not only helpful to pollinator insects, it also attracts other beneficial insects and thereby attracts birds and other wildlife, too. Remember, when you’re attracting wildlife to your yard, you don’t get to choose only the pretty ones. In my yard, I enjoy watching butterflies, moths, spiders, hummingbirds, robins and finches. I also endure blackbirds, mourning doves, rabbits, snakes, mice and voles. I really, really enjoy my flowering plants which makes the wildlife in my yard a (mostly) happy by-product.