Plants to Attract Beneficial Insects

Fine Gardening – Issue 208
Coreopsis (left) and mealybugs (right)

You can use certain plants to lure desirable insects to your garden to help with biocontrol. Many of these workhorse plants are attractive to a wide number of beneficial insects beyond the ones featured below; together the insects they attract help keep pests from munching on your veggies. 

Learn more about attracting beneficial insects in Jessica’s article
Companion Planting Is Not a Myth

Attracting plants

Goldenrod. Photo: Jennifer Benner
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita, annual)
  • Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus, annual)
  • Goldenrod (Solidago spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9)


Spotlight beneficial insect: Ladybugs

close up of ladybug
Photo: © Jiří Kasal/

Pests they control

  • aphids (pictured)
  • beetle larvae
  • mealybugs
  • scale
  • spider mites


Attracting plants

Black-eyed Susan
Black-eyed Susan. Photo: Steve Aitken
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta and cvs., Zones 3–8)
  • English daisy (Bellis perennis, Zones 4–8)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare, Zones 4–8)


Spotlight beneficial insect: Syrphid flies

close up of Syrphid fly
Photo: ©Andrej Safaric/

leafhopper illustrated

Pests they control

  • aphids
  • cabbageworms
  • thrips
  • leafhoppers (pictured)
  • scales
  • mealybugs
  • caterpillars


Attracting plants

close up of Angelica
Angelica. Photo: Jennifer Benner
  • Angelica (Angelica spp. and cvs., Zones 4–11)
  • Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium, Zones 5–8)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium, Zones 3–9)


Spotlight beneficial insect: Lacewings

close up of lacewings
Photo: Musat Christian/Dematerializations

caterpillar illustrated

Pests they control

  • aphids
  • beetle larvae
  • caterpillars (pictured)
  • corn earworms
  • whiteflies
  • spider mites
  • various insect eggs


Attracting plants

Coreopsis. Photo: Jennifer Benner
  • Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9)
  • Aster (Symphyotrichum spp. and cvs., Zones 4–8)
  • Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum, annual)


Spotlight beneficial insect: Parasitic wasps

close up of parasitic wasp
Photo: Abdul Latif/

mealybug illustration

Pests they control

  • aphids
  • beetle larvae
  • cabbageworms
  • earworms
  • cutworms
  • caterpillars
  • leaf miners
  • mealybugs (pictured)
  • budworms
  • hornworms
  • scales
  • true bugs

Jessica Walliser is a horticulturist, award-winning author of seven garden books, and a cofounder of For more information on companion planting, see her book Plant Partners: Science-Based Companion Strategies for the Vegetable Garden.

Illustrations: Allison Mia Starcher

From Fine Gardening #208

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