Introduce These Deadly Predators to Your Garden to Fight Pests Naturally

Imagine, after waking up and having that first cup of coffee in your dewy garden that’s lit by morning sunshine, you decide to take a peek at the tomato plants you’ve been lovingly nurturing these past couple of months. And you’re met with this sight, straight from a horror scene:

Tomato Hornworm

These insects may be a part of the great circle of life, but there’s no reason for you to put up with them in your garden. One of the best ways to control pests organically is through the use of beneficial predatory insects. You can either attract them to your garden naturally or head down to your local nursery to purchase them.

So before doing this:

Angela Bassett Burning It All Down

Check out these six predators to add to your garden today.

Beneficial Nematodes

Beneficial Neamatodes

Tiny, microscopic “worms” referred to as beneficial nematodes have become a popular form of pest control, as they feed on more than 200 pests from up to 100 insect families. Nematodes grow beneficial bacteria inside their guts that when released inside an insect kills it within 24 to 48 hours. It’s important to pick the right type of nematode for your garden because each specific type targets a different pest.

Kills: Flea larvae, grubs, slugs, snails, and root weevils.


Ladybug on Flower

There are as cute as can be, but they are deadly to annoying garden pests. A single ladybug may consume as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. They are also an inexpensive remedy—I got a bag of 500 for $5 at my local nursery.

Kills: Aphids, chinch bugs, asparagus beetle larvae, alfalfa weevils, bean thrips, grape root worm, Colorado potato beetle larvae, spider mites, whiteflies and mealybugs.


Green Lacewing on leaf

I also picked up a fairly inexpensive package of lacewings at the same time I got ladybugs. Since the larvae are the actual predators, you usually buy them in egg form; since adults fly away, they need to be reapplied every couple of weeks.

Kills: Aphids, insect and moth eggs, mealybugs, scale, spider mites, thrips, and other soft-bodied insects.

Praying Mantis

Praying mantis killing prey

The Praying Mantis is the most fearsome of all garden predators as it can hunt and kill insects and small mammals (including, unfortunately, some beneficial garden insects and birds) three times its size. It is the only insect that can rotate its head a full 180-degrees, which helps them seek out their prey from all angles. I was so proud when I found a praying mantis in my garden last year because they are attracted to thriving gardens with good ecosystems.

Kills: As youngsters, they feed on aphids and mosquitoes. Adult praying mantis prey on larger bugs, such as moths and grasshoppers.

Assassin Bugs

Assassin Bug on leaf

There are thousands of varieties of assassin bugs, and all are voracious predators of irritating garden pests. Some varieties include Milkweed Assassin Bug, Spined Assassin Bug and Predatory Stink Bugs. They kill by poking their sharp mandibles into the pest’s body and injecting a toxin that immobilizes it and dissolves its innards.

Kills: Aphids, mealybugs, caterpillars and thrips.

Parasitic Wasps

Tomato hornworm with wasp eggs

If you thought that previous image of a tomato hornworm was scary, check this out. This tomato hornworm is on its way to a gruesome death because a parasitic wasp laid her eggs in his body.

Kills: More than 200 types of pests, including cabbage loopers, caterpillars, cutworms and tomato hornworms.

<span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Tequia Burt</span>
Tequia Burt

Tequia Burt is a Chicago-based editor, writer, content creator, and brand storyteller with 20 years of experience. In addition to being the Editor in Chief of Backyard Chicago Garden, she is the Founder-CEO of Content[ed.], which provides custom content and strategy to businesses.

Black Farms Matter: 8 Black-Owned Urban Farms to Support

It has never been a better time to support Black farmers.

As the chorus of “Black Lives Matter” rang out across the United States in the past few months, Americans have become more likely to seek out Black-owned business. Citing “a surge in online searches for Black-owned businesses,” even Google has hopped on the bandwagon. The search giant now lets Black business owners list themselves as such, making it much easier for customers to find and support them.

But how many Black farmers are there left to support?

Right now, according to the USDA’s latest figures, Black farmers comprise less than 2% of all farmers in the United States. In a 2019 analysis, the Center for American Progress released a report detailing how the devastating effect of discrimination by the USDA itself led to black farmers losing 80% of their land from 1910 to 2007. “The impact of structural racism—or systematic discrimination by private and public institutions—over the course of U.S. history on the wealth of black families is staggering,” the report said.

However, despite those dire figures, Black-owned farms are growing, according to the USDA. Even as the overall number of farmers are shrinking, the number of Black farmers is on the rise. Despite the odds against them, Black farmers are reclaiming the earth and using it to heal racial traumas for whole communities and to foster a closer relationship to the land. Here are eight to support today.

Grow Greater Englewood
Chicago, IL

Established in 2014, Grow Greater Englewood promotes community wealth-building through sustainable agriculture. Cooperative farming is a central aspect of GGE’s community organizing, which seeks to turn struggling neighborhood Englewood into a “food oasis,” and play an active role in the “real food revolution that can generate equity, prosperity and wealth for local residents.”

Root Life
New Haven, CT

Praxis, the owner of Root Life, has been urban farming in New Haven for eight years, working as a fulltime farmer and environmental educator for Common Ground High School and volunteering with local agricultural organizations such as New Haven Farms, The New Haven Land Trust, The Yale Sustainable Food Project and The Yale Botanical Gardens. In addition to working for and volunteering for local agricultural organizations, Praxis also helps to establish local community gardens and facilitate after-school garden club programs.

Chi City Foods
Chicago, IL

Founded in 2018 by Xavier Maatra, Chi City Foods is driven by the passion to provide poor and marginalized groups in Chicago with access to fresh produce and training opportunities in urban agriculture. The current incubator farm is located in Altgeld Gardens, one of the most isolated housing developments in Chicago. This community is in a food desert with only one convenience store located within two miles. As the farm grows, its priority will be to train and hire people directly from the neighborhood, especially youth.

Mother’s Finest Family Urban Farms
Winston Salem, NC

Through the leadership of Mother/ Certified Beekeeper and Master Gardener Samantha “Foxx” Winship, Mother’s Finest Family Urban Farms promotes innovative farming practices, product development and operations. In addition to growing all kinds of produce, the farm cultivates bees, chickens, worms and mushrooms. They have even trained their children to handle basic farm operations, beekeeping, vermiculture, poultry care and growing food!

Your Bountiful Harvest
Chicago, IL

Your Bountiful Harvest is a sustainable urban farm and garden consultation service that provides environmental and hands-on farm education classes on-site in your backyard, community garden, farmers markets and/or classroom. Non-GMO, organic and heirloom seedlings are also available for purchase during the Spring (mid-late May) and Fall (Mid-September).

Farms to Grow
Oakland, CA

Farms to Grow lists three missions: 1) To promote the sustainability and legacy of Black farmers as well as sprout the next generation of small farmers; 2) To document and disseminate farm history to advance the public’s understanding of the important roles of Black farmers; and 3) To improve the access to urban food markets including schools, restaurants, and individual consumers for Black and other underserved farmers.

Fresh Life Organic
Houston, TX

Fresh Life Organic was launched in 2016 to provide agriculture assistance to urban and rural areas and was created as a response to a community need for fresh local veggies. Over the last few years, the farm has expanded and produced multiple farms and gardens from Houston to now around the world. The farm specializes in Aquaponics/ Hydroponics, row crop farming, operations, risk management, and marketing agriculture products and is best known for its sustainable agriculture planning designing, building, and maintaining of farms, gardens, and greenhouses.

Footprint Farms
Jackson, MS

Cindy Ayers Elliott founded this 68-acre farm with a focus on agritourism for community development in Jackson, MS. Growing and array of fruits and vegetables, raising meat goats, chickens, cattle, and horses, she believes that “planting seeds in the earth will grow fresh vegetables, however, planting a seed in the minds of young people will create a new universe of scholars.”

<span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Tequia Burt</span>
Tequia Burt

Tequia Burt is a Chicago-based editor, writer, content creator, and brand storyteller with 20 years of experience. In addition to being the Editor in Chief of Backyard Chicago Garden, she is the Founder-CEO of Content[ed.], which provides custom content and strategy to businesses.