What Beneficial Insects Are Living In My Yard?

It’s tempting to think that every bug you see is out to bite you, sneak into your home, or eat your plants. In reality though, that’s quite the opposite of the truth. Your yard is filled with insects whose presence and activity has positive impacts that reverberate across entire ecosystems.

What are Beneficial Insects?

Generally speaking, beneficial garden insects can be broken down into three distinct categories based on their behavior. Given the potential boon to your yard that they represent, taking steps to foster comfortable habitats for them can be a remarkably effective means of outdoor pest control. The three categories of beneficial bugs are:

  • Pollinators: Pollinators like bees, wasps, and butterflies are prized for their ability to spread pollen from plant to plant as they feed, kickstaring the plant’s reproduction process and allowing the next generation to develop. Without pollinating insects, entire ecosystems, as well as many of our agricultural systems, would collapse.
  • Predators: Predators, as their name implies, feed on detrimental bugs, keeping both your plants and even some beneficial insects safe. A few common examples include ladybugs, spiders, and praying mantises.
  • Parasitizers: While it’s easy to confuse parasytizers with predators and the overall impact of their behavior is the same, the means by which they get rid of harmful bugs is quite unique. Insects like certain parasitic wasps for example, lay their eggs on bugs like caterpillars which can cause serious damage in your yard. Once their eggs hatch, the larvae proceed to eat the caterpillar, quickly neutralizing its impact on surrounding plants.

Common Beneficial Insects

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common types of beneficial insects:

Assassin Bugs

Commonly found all over the Mid Atlantic, assassin bugs can be easily identified by their slender abdomens, six long legs, two equally long frontal antennae, and vibrant black and red coloring. While they’re not known to display aggressive behavior toward humans, they’re capable of inflicting a painful bite if provoked, so take care to keep your distance if possible.

Why Are They Beneficial?

Assassin bugs are some of the most voracious and effective yard predators, feeding on harmful insects like caterpillars, beetles, and a wide variety of others. In fact, some species of assassin bug even eat cockroaches!

Bumble Bees

One of the most iconic outdoor bugs known to mankind, bumble bees rarely exceed 1 inch in length, possess instantly-recognizable yellow and black stripes, and have abdomens covered in small hairs which trap pollen as they feed on plant nectar.

Why Are They Beneficial?

Bumble bees are remarkable pollinators, with a single bee able to pollinate as many as 5,000 flowers in a single day! It’s no wonder then that they’re critical to food systems and ecosystems all over the world, making them not only a beneficial yard bug but worthy of both protection and special consideration.


The adult form of a wide variety of caterpillar species, butterflies come in myriad colors and forms. However, they’re easily identified by their oversized wings, which sit on either side of their long, slender abdomen, and can be found near many of Maryland and Virgnia’s seasonal flowers during spring and summer.

Why Are They Beneficial?

Like bumble bees, butterflies are immensely helpful pollinating insects, making them an essential part of many different ecosystems across North America. In addition to pollinating an enormous amount of different wildflowers, butterflies are also indispensable when it comes to propagating crops.


One of the fixtures of summer here in the Mid Atlantic, fireflies, also known as lightning bugs, are among the most recognizable bugs around. Their characteristic bioluminescent lower abdomens make them visible from a distance after dark but during the day, they can be identified by their hard black wing covers, red heads, and two segmented antennae.

Why Are They Beneficial?

Despite their name, fireflies are actually a species of beetle whose larvae hatch underground. And it’s in that stage where they can really help you out. Firefly larvae are predatory in nature, feeding on slugs, snails, and other harmful insect larvae. So while they’re certainly nice to look at, they offer so much more!

Green Lacewing

Adult green lacewings have skinny green bodies which rarely exceed ¾ inch long, large, translucent wings, and long frontal antennae. Potent predators at all stages of their lives, green lacewing larvae have short, stout bodies, two vertical brown stripes which extend the length of their abdomen, and powerful jaws which they use to devastating effect.

Why Are They Beneficial?

Also known as, “Aphid lions,” green lacewings are a highly effective yard predator. In addition to aphids, larval lacewings are known to feed on caterpillars and whiteflies which tend to target flowering nectar plants, causing significant damage in the process.


Easily confused for small bees or wasps, hoverflies have extended abdominal segments relative to other fly species which are marked with distinctive black and yellow striping. Their heads and wings though, are unmistakably those of a fly, particularly in their characteristically large eyes and short antennae.

Why Are They Beneficial?

They might not get as much attention as many other beneficial yard bugs, but hoverflies more than hold their own. In fact, they’re both pollinators and predators! Sometimes referred to as flower flies, adult hoverflies feed primarily on nectar, passing pollen along to other flowers in the process. Their larvae however, feed mainly on aphids, meaning that hoverflies help out your plants at all stages of their lives.


Possibly the best-known beneficial garden bug, ladybugs are easy to identify. They have a small, nearly-circular body with brightly-colored wing covers ranging anywhere from yellow to red. Additionally, their wing covers sport small black spots while their heads typically host a few white ones. Their short legs are somewhat deceptive though, as ladybugs are adept flyers, meaning that they can cover long distances during the course of their lives.

Why Are They Beneficial?

Similarly to green lacewings, ladybugs predate heavily on aphids. In addition though, they’re also known to target mealybugs and multiple other destructive pests, making them particularly helpful to both farmers and gardeners. Ladybug blood also functions as a natural repellent to a wide variety of predators, meaning that a stable population around your outdoor spaces requires minimal intervention and management.

Pirate Bugs

Easily overlooked due to their miniscule size, pirate bugs are nevertheless common all over North America. These tiny yard insects rarely exceed 5 millimeters in length and typically display white or light gray lower abdominal sections covered by dark wing covers and black heads. Nymphal pirate bugs display brownish-red coloring, starting dark and the lower abdomen and getting lighter further up the body.

Why Are They Beneficial?

Pirate bugs, also known as orius, have something of a bad reputation amongst gardeners are they’re capable of delivering a surprisingly painful bite, particularly relative to their diminutive size. Still though, they more than earn their place in our yards by feeding other insects’ eggs and even some small adult bugs like aphids, whiteflies, and various mites. We may not like getting bitten either but, on balance, prite bugs are worth the occasional discomfort.

Praying Mantids

One of the most striking insect species around, a typical mantis that you’ll encounter in the Mid Atlantic region has a long, slender body, green coloration all over, four long, thin hind legs, and two powerful front legs which are often held in front of their body at an angle. While green is the most common mantid color, brown specimens are widely observed as well, particularly in woodland ecosystems.

Why Are They Beneficial?

From the moment they hatch, mantids are accomplished hunters with big appetites. Their prey of choice includes roaches, mosquitoes, aphids, and even small rodents! Naturally, this all adds up to making them one of the most beneficial insects on the planet to both farmers and gardeners alike.

Predatory Mites

Not insects at all but actually a member of the arachnid class, predatory mites are still an immensely helpful yard bug. They can be easily identified by their tiny, translucent pear-shaped bodies, eight short legs, and lack of wings. Depending on what they eat however, their bodies may appear to be light green, orange, or a dull red.

Why Are They Beneficial?

Predatory mites are one of the principal predators of harmful spider mites which can cause immense damage to a wide variety of plants in your yard. Better still, they aren’t known to cause any serious collateral damage to either plants of beneficial species, so predatory mites are an excellent choice when it comes to introducing biological pest control methods into your yard.

Robber Flies

One of the larger bugs we’ll discuss today, robber flies can reach up to three inches in length. Unlike most flies though, which have short, bulbous abdomens, robber flies have long, thin ones more reminiscent of a dragonfly’s. Their long wings and comparatively long legs relative to other fly varieties also set them apart and can be helpful in identification.

Why Are They Beneficial?

Owing to their imposing size and powerful jaws, robber flies can put a serious dent in local grasshopper, wasp, beetle, and fly populations. While this makes them a beneficial bug in our book, they’re best viewed at a distance. Like their cousins, the notorious horsefly and deer fly, they can inflict highly painful bite which may make control necessary if their population gets too big.

Soldier Beetles

Easily mistaken for fireflies, soldier beetles are actually quite different from their cousins. Like lightning bugs, they have long bodies with hard black wing covers and red heads. However, their antennae are longer than their aforementioned relatives and have an extra segment behind their head. And of course, they don’t light up.

Why Are They Beneficial?

Further differentiating themselves from lightning bugs, soldier beetles are pollinators as opposed to predators. And like all other pollinator species, they play a key role in both food systems and ecosystems.


Last but most certainly not least, spiders are among the most beneficial bugs that can live in your yard. These predatory arachnids often spend their signature webs in shrubs and trees or on lawn furniture but some varieties either burrow or live on the ground. Wherever they live though, they’re easily identified by their eight legs, slightly hairy bodies, and eight eyes.

Why Are They Beneficial?

Whether they actively hunt or let their prey come to them, spiders play a critical role in controlling the populations of mosquitoes, flies, wasps, moths, beetles, and a wide variety of other insects. From your yard to your farm, and even your home, spiders are here to help!

How to Attract More Beneficial Insects To Your Yard

Now that we’ve met a few beneficial insects and talked about all the good that they can do for you, you may be wondering how to attract them to your yard. Well, it’s simple! You can start by:

  • Having a diverse garden with as many varieties of flowering plants as you can get.
  • Adding strongly-scented plants like mint, dill, lavender, feverfew, and marigolds.
  • Attracting their prey by planning a few nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, and various forms of brassicas.
  • Using natural and eco-friendly landscape care and outdoor pest control around your home.

Want to learn more? Give Blades of Green a call today to speak with one of our experienced lawn technicians!

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