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Backyard Bugs

We are all familiar with bugs: you can walk outside, look around, and spot at least a few different ones! Many bug species have been around for more than 400 million years. They can be pests and sometimes even scary but they are important to our ecosystem. They help control other bug populations, dispose of waste, pollinate plants, and keep the soil healthy.

Here are some bugs you might recognize and may have seen in your own neighborhood.  

Ladybug 

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Ladybugs are most recognized for their red or orange backs covered in little black spots. Did you know that the species also includes beetles of many different color variations? Some are blue and yellow, and some don’t even have spots!

How to attract: The best way to bring ladybugs to your yard or garden is to provide plants that will attract them. Ladybugs enjoy plants like cilantro, cosmos, dill, fennel, caraway, yarrow, and angelica. 

Praying mantis 

Most praying mantis species have wings, although only the males can fly. In North America, green is their most common coloring, but they can also be found in shades of brown; colors that help them blend into their environment. They are one of the few insects that have a sense of hearing similar to humans, and they are the only insects that can turn their head. Praying mantises are generally welcome to gardens as they eat lots of bugs that can harm plants, and they are one of the most common insects kept as pets.  

How to attract: Praying mantises appreciate bug-friendly gardens with organically grown plants. They are also attracted to rose buses, shrubbery, and tall grasses that can provide shelter.  

Butterfly 

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The color on a butterfly’s wings is created with thousands of tiny scales that reflect the light to show color. These scales may fall off as a butterfly gets older, revealing a transparent wing underneath.  

How to attract: You can attract butterflies by finding a wind-sheltered area of your yard and planting a variety of flowers that are beneficial to a butterfly’s diet. There are many types of flowers that attract butterflies, including butterfly bushes, lavender, phlox, verbena, coneflowers, and asters. Butterflies also enjoy drinking from puddles; you can provide a good butterfly puddle by putting a bowl or bucket in the ground, filling it with sand, and regularly adding water to it.  

Moth 

Although butterflies and moths are similar, there are a few marked differences: moths usually rest with their wings closed, not open, they have feathery antennae that are shorter than butterflies, and they tend to be active in the evening and at night, while butterflies are more active in the day. There are also far more moths than there are butterflies, and they come in many different sizes and colors.  

How to attract: Most flowers that attract butterflies will also attract moths, and they also enjoy overripe fruit. You can attract and observe moths after dark by providing a bright light source, such as a porch light or lamp. 

Honeybee

There are three types of honeybees in a hive: the workers, drones, and the queen. All of the worker bees–the ones you see flying around collecting honey–are female. The drones are all male and are kept out of the hive during winter. While worker bees live only about 5 or 6 weeks, the queen bee can live up to 5 years. The honey that the bees produce is meant to be kept as a food supply for the winter months; however, since a hive can produce almost 3 times more than it needs, harvesting the honey for human consumption does not harm the hive.  

How to attract: Honeybees are attracted to many of the same flowers that butterflies are and are particularly attracted to flowers in the colors of blue, purple, and yellow. Plant a diverse variety of nectar-rich flowers in your yard or garden and bees will be sure to visit.