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Garden Friendly Critters To Tell Your Kids About

benefits of gardening for kids
benefits of gardening for kids

A garden is not without its creepy crawlies. When you are gardening with your children you’ll probably want to let them know what kind of critters they can expect to see in the garden. 

Many insects can be very beneficial to helping your garden grow – either by eating those who will ruin a crop or helping to pollinate your crops. You will want to make your children aware of the friends and foes of the garden insect world. Here is a short guide of some of the insects you will see in your garden.

Praying Mantis

These are scary looking bugs. They can be hard to see because of how they camouflage themselves against the plants. But if you pay close attention to areas like the petals of flowers or porch lights, you will see the praying mantis. 

Mantises have big appetites. When young they will eat various aphids, leaf hoppers, mosquitoes, caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects. Later they will eat larger insects, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and other pest insects. Praying mantises are large, slow moving insects that catch their prey with their front legs. Mantises will ambush their prey by sitting on a plant or twig, waiting for their prey to come close and then will snatch them up.

This is definitely an insect you want around as they eat the bugs which like to eat your garden. You should keep a close eye out for their eggs as you definitely do not want to disturb them. It’s important to teach your children what the eggs look like. Eggs can often be found on leaves of shrubs and twigs. You will want to make sure not to place these eggs on the ground as that makes them easy prey for ants. Find a sheltered location up off the ground for these egg sacs so you can keep plenty of praying mantises in your garden.

Ladybugs

If you have trouble with sap-feeding insects in your yard, then you want to get ladybugs on the job. Ladybugs are very beneficial in this sense for the garden as they are natural enemies of these sap-sucking insects. So this is a natural pesticide for these unwanted bugs in your garden. 

And they are believed to be good luck as well. Not only do ladybugs eat many sap-sucking bugs a day, but they also will eat the larvae of many different bugs which are detrimental to the garden. So these voracious bugs are a must have in any garden.

Green Lacewings

The Green Lacewing is widely beneficial in attacking destructive garden insects during its larvae stage. But that doesn’t mean they are not still without their use once they become adults. At this point they help to pollinate your garden by feeding on nectar and honeydew. But for 1-3 weeks in the larvae stage they are vigorous predators, going after aphids, mites, a wide variety of soft-bodied insects, including insect eggs, thrips, mealybugs, immature whiteflies, and small caterpillars.

The larvae of a lacewing are very small and gray-brown in color. The lacewing larva vigorously attacks its prey, injects a paralyzing venom, and draws out the body fluids of its helpless victim. 

The adults can live for about four to six weeks. They will feed on nectar, pollen and honeydew. In order to continue having these voracious predators laying eggs in your garden, you will want to make sure they have plenty of access to nectar, pollen, and honeydew. Without these the green lacewings will move on to find their food somewhere else. You want these insects to remain in your garden, protecting it against its biggest threats.

These three insects are just some of the insects you want to make your children aware of protecting in your garden. The most natural pesticide you can possibly use are the predators of the insects that threaten your garden. So learn what these bugs look like and plant what will help keep them around protecting your garden.

Written by Editorial Staff

Our Editorial Staff consists of Certified Health Education Specialists and freelance medical writers with a passion for holistic kids health and wellness. From natural kids health articles to complex medical writing, our editorial staff works to help educate and engage parents in their kids holistic and healthcare decision-making.

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