It’s a war out there. Every day, the enemy steps foot on your soil, armed to the teeth to take what’s yours. No matter how many plants it kills, no matter how many fruits and vegetables it destroys, the enemy will not stop until it has taken everything from you. But, there’s good news: you don’t have to fight alone. You have your own miniature task force—the best of the best at keeping your garden safe from pests.

Ladybug: The Femme Fatale

If ladybugs had a spot for every aphid they cut down, their shells would be solid black. These little brutes are anything but lady-like when it comes to garden warfare. Ladybugs consume all sorts of pests, including garden mites, mealybugs, leaf hoppers, and of course aphids— green little sap-suckers who wreak havoc on plants. (If there was a Garden’s Most Wanted, aphids would definitely make the list.) Luckily, our ladies in red are around to dispatch these pests by the hundreds. In fact, their daughters (ladybug larvae) can gorge on over one thousand aphids a day!

Hover Fly: The Wingman

In combat, air support can be essential. For that, you’ll want the hover fly. This bug is quick and agile, darting from flower to flower, depositing pollen while scoping out the garden with its large compound eyes.

Though it wears the fighting colors of the bee, the hover fly has no stinger and only two wings. Its weapon is its speed. The hover fly zips about the garden, performing airstrikes on caterpillars and mealybugs. It jets through aphid colonies and drops its eggs, which will soon hatch an army to take out the enemy from the inside. Though it may be irritating, be sure not to swat this aeronautic tactician.

Nematode: The Thing

Garden pests beware. It lurks underground. It hungers for flesh. And it wants—your children! Though it is called the beneficial nematode, more than two hundred pest species consider the parasite a detriment.

Ignoring plants and earth- worms, the nematode slithers through the soil, looking for larva. When it finds one, it wriggles into their mouth and feeds on them from the inside. Within days, the larva dies, and the nematode rises from the corpse, ready to strike again.

Centipede: The Cutthroat Companion

Ever known someone who is selfish and aggressive, a complete danger to everyone… everyone, that is, except for you? That’s who the centipede is. He’s a jerk, but he’s on your side, so you overlook his flaws. Sure, he’s ugly. Sure, he’s vicious. But you’re certainly not going to lose sleep over those crickets he’s killed. The centipede is your very own goon, taking care of the bugs that torment you and your garden. It’s not a perfect relationship, but it works. And it will stay that way, as long as the centipede stays away from your home.

Butterfly: The Born-again Bug

In their youth, butterflies are hellraisers. They ransack and vandalize your garden, leaving a wake of destruction everywhere they crawl. But with maturity comes a change of heart… and body. Following metamorphosis, each butterfly escapes its cocoon reborn, repentant, and ready to atone for adolescent mistakes. They carry pollen from flower to flower, creating new life instead of ending it. Most gardeners will forgive butterflies for their transgressions and appreciate them for the beautiful helpers they’ve become.

Dragonfly: The Flying TerrorSpider: The Garden Grenade

Generally, spiders are not beloved, but those in your garden can be greatly beneficial. Garden spiders shy away from humans and exterminate more pests than all other bugs in your garden combined. That said, they’re likely to dispatch your allies as well. Spiders are living “bug bombs,” killing large numbers with indifference. Good bugs? Bad bugs? Other spiders? It doesn’t matter. If it crawls, it dies. Spiders are a major asset, but be prepared for casualties on your side.

Assassin Bug: The… Assassin Bug

The name speaks for itself. Assassin Bugs are merciless little beetles, literal backstabbers that plunge their long, dagger-like beaks through their victims’ shells. These beaks inject a special kind of saliva into their prey, liquefying their innards so that the assassin bug can slurp them up. Many pests have made their hitlist: aphids, bed bugs, caterpillars, flies, and even mosquitoes. The bad thing about assassin bugs is that they kill bees, and bees are crucial to helping your garden grow. But on the upside, assassins have a lot of enemies. Let them do in your pests, and don’t feel too bad when your assassin bugs get assassinated.