Plants vs Aphids: Beneficial Insects for the Garden

As our roses wake up, it’s time to start thinking about rose maintenance and care. While it’s true that roses are resilient plants, there are several garden pests that annoy gardeners to no end. At Heirloom Roses, we always prefer to use natural methods of plant care whenever possible to take care of these unwanted visitors.

Beneficial insects are great for keeping pests under control—and you can feel great about keeping your garden pesticide-free too!

Lady bugs are one of the most recognizable insects and are perfect for rose gardens because they LOVE aphids. While the bright, spotted adults are easy to recognize, their larvae look very different. Many well-meaning gardeners end up killing the larvae, thinking they are pests. It is important to recognize all the life stages of beneficial insects to avoid killing a helpful friend. Ladybug larvae resemble tiny black alligators. With their elongated, spiny bodies and orange, white or yellow markings, they hardly look like the delicate lady bug they grow into. Keep an eye out for these young insects as they are a welcome addition to your garden and a great natural method of controlling aphids. You can purchase ladybugs at a local garden store or even online.

Though you might not notice these insects very much, Green Lacewings are common to most of North America. This beneficial insect is pale green, and has large, transparent green wings and a fragile looking body. Lacewings eat nectar and pollen as an adult, but their larvae are vigorous predators, and can eat over six hundred aphids over the course of their larvae cycle. In addition to aphids, they also feast on spider mites, thrips, and whiteflies, and other rose pests.

The Praying Mantis is easily recognizable with its long front limbs and bulging eyes. They are the lions of the insect kingdom and will eat pretty much any bug that walks, crawls or flies in the garden. Without the use of pesticides, there will always be plenty of insects for this hungry predator to eat.

So how do you attract these beneficial insects to your garden? By planting companion plants around your rosebushes! There are a number of plants that will attract these good insects.

Fiddleneck (phacelia tanacetifolia) is a lovely annual plant from the borage family. It attracts many beneficial insects and contributes to healthy soil. It can also be used as a cover crop.

Calendula is a vivacious annual that comes in bright orange, yellow or cream, and will brighten up any space, as well as adding to the health of the garden. The flowers of this plant are also edible and can be used for medicinal purposes.

Marigolds deter many pests and attract other good insects. They are lovely as a border, and also attract pollinators.

Lavender is popular to use with roses for not only visual appeal, but also for the many pollinators it attracts to a garden. Everyone is drawn to the scent of lavender, including beneficial insects!