Plant “umbrellas” to fight pests!

Tachinid Fly

By Margie Lachman

Tachinid fly (Compsilura concinnata) photo by Joyce Gross, UCB, 
licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.
Tachinid fly (Compsilura concinnata) photo by Joyce Gross, UCB, 
licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.

Hopefully the Japanese beetle problem will be under control after five years of treatment by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Next year we may be able to share plants from our gardens.

We can help now and in the future to control damaging insects by planting pollinating plants that attract beneficial insects like the Tachinid fly. The Tachinidae family is the largest and most important group of parasitic flies in North America. There are over 1,000 kinds of tachinid flies. All are parasitic in the larval stage and many are important natural enemies of major pests. They are important not only against destructive insects in our gardens but in agriculture as well. 

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). Botanic school of Jardin des Plantes‎, Paris. By Alvesgaspar – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

We hardly notice these little workers as they quietly go about laying eggs on pests and gathering nectar, but they make it possible for us to enjoy naturally healthy gardens without the use of pesticides. Only half an inch long or smaller, they don’t sting or otherwise bother us and they help to control many destructive insects like sawflies, squash bugs, cutworms, tent caterpillars, stink bugs, and of course Japanese beetles! 

It is easy to invite the tachinid fly to go to work for us by planting umbel flowers (umbrella-shaped) such as dill, fennel, carrot, cilantro, coriander and parsley. Except for carrots these are all herbs which, of course, enhance many of our favorite meals. Planted among our vegetables and ornamentals we create diversity that invites beneficial insects and supports important pollinators. Life is easier and gardening more fun when we don’t have to fight destructive pests. 

Questions? Email me at or call 503-645-2994.

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