For many homeowners who keep a garden, insects are either a minor annoyance or a full on blight. Beetles, flies, caterpillars and other insects can quickly devour the leaves of your plants, leaving them stunted and unable to produce fruits and vegetables at the end of the season.

In our haste to be rid of these bugs, many people turn to pesticides. However, most pesticides aren’t discriminate in the insects they deter from your garden. As a result, they can also often discourage insects that are beneficial to your garden.

In this article, we’re going to list six insects that are beneficial for your garden and give you some tips on how to encourage them to feel at home in your garden.

1. Damsel Bugs

Damsel bugs look like a cross between a mantis and a grasshopper. They prey on many insects that can harm your garden, including caterpillars and aphids.

2. Ladybugs

Ladybug, lady bird, lady beetle… These polka dotted insects have many names. They also have many uses for your garden. They ward off aphids and whiteflies, and let’s face it, they’re fun to look at as well. To attract ladybugs to your garden, plant some dill; these insects are attracted to the herb.

3. Soldier beetles

Named for their color which resembled the red coats of the early British army, soldier beetles are very beneficial to have in your garden. They eat the eggs and larvae of other insects, including beetles and moths, that can easily take over the leaves in your garden.

To find out if your plants have eggs or larvae on them, look on the underside of the leaves. Insects often lay their eggs on large leaves like those of squash and cucumber plants.

4. Braconid wasps

We know what you’re thinking, “Why would I ever want wasps in my garden?” Well, these particular wasps happen to be parasites that lay their eggs on other insects that feast on your garden.

You also don’t have to worry about being stung, since these wasps aren’t stingers. Plus, all of the eggs they lay on the insects that eat your garden will come in handy for keeping your garden pest-free later on.

5. Bees

There are about 25,000 known species of bees worldwide. Many of them are among the best pollinators for your flower or vegetable garden.

To attract beneficial bees to your garden, incorporate native plants and avoid pesticides. Bees have a good sense of color, so the wider variety of colorful flowers you have, the more likely you are to attract these pollinators.

6. Earthworms

Technically speaking, worms aren’t considered insects. However, they’re on this list because of the benefit they provide to your garden. This includes recycling organic waste in your garden, and improving soil composition. They loosen them soil to allow oxygen and useful bacteria to enter the plant roots.

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Buying a home is a lengthy process that requires months or even years of planning. The end result, however, is to have a home you can truly call your own and to own equity that you can then use later down the road.

Figuring out the right time to buy a home can be difficult for prospective homeowners. You’ll need to have a firm grasp on your finances and personal goals for what you want your life to look like for the next 5 or more years.

Buying a home in more than just a financial commitment. It also means you take on all of the responsibilities of owning that home. Maintenance, both inside and out, can take up a significant amount of your time.

Furthermore, owning a home ties you down to one area. You’ll need to determine if you’re ready and able to settle in one area for the next 5-7 years. This has implications for careers and for family life. Will your job bring you elsewhere? If you change jobs, are there ample opportunities where you live? These are just a couple of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself before deciding whether you’re ready to buy a home.

To simplify the process, I’ve created a checklist for some of the things you’ll need before you’re ready to buy a home. While this list does cover the basics, there may be other factors unique to your circumstances that you’ll have to take into consideration.

So, if you’re thinking about buying a home sometime in the near future, read on for the checklist. And, keep in mind that these are not necessarily mandatory before buying a home. But they will give you the best chance of making a solid investment and securing financial stability.

The home buyer’s preparedness checklist

  • Raise your credit score to 750 or more. A score in the “excellent” range will help you get the lowest possible interest rate on your mortgage. It’s possible to get approved for a mortgage with a score that is much lower, but a high score is ideal and can help you avoid PMI and a high interest rate.

  • Have an emergency fund saved. You don’t want to buy a house and then suddenly find yourself needing money for an emergency. Save a month’s worth of expenses before your down payment.

  • Have an active budget plan for saving up your down payment. Creating a dedicated savings account that you automatically have a portion of your pay deposited into is a good way to ensure that you meet your savings goals.

  • Bolster the case for your financial stability. Lenders will want to see that your income is predictable and regular. Keep records of your income, tax returns, and anything else that can help show that you’re making more than enough money to safely lend to.

  • Have open conversations with your family. If you’ll be buying a home with a spouse and/or children, discuss what you’re looking for in a home. This can include location, size, etc. It’s a good idea for everyone to be on the same page before you ever start shopping for a home.

  • Get preapproved. Getting preapproved for a home loan will make you a better prospective buyer in the eyes of sellers.

  • Run the numbers again. Aside from your mortgage payments, you’ll also have to pay utilities, trash removal, property taxes, and any other expenses related to the home. Make sure you can comfortably afford these while still contributing to savings.

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