GOOD BUG, BAD BUG
By Trey Pitsenberger, co-owner
Bugs in the garden
a bad thing. Veteran gardeners love bugs (as long as
they’re the good kind) because they know beneficial
insects are an effective natural solution to garden pest
If you are a little
squeamish when it comes to insects, just remember they
are easy to use and have many important side benefits.
Using beneficial bugs doesn’t
harm the environment or children and pets. Good bugs
can also last a long time, so they are more cost-effective
than pesticides. Bad bugs may build up a resistance to
chemicals, but they’ll always be on the dinner
menu of the good bugs.
Not only will beneficial insects take care
of the pests in your garden, they can hop the fence and
go after pests next door, creating a wider area of protection
for your plants.
It is sometimes difficult to tell the good
bugs from the bad ones. The aphid-loving syrphid fly
(hover fly) and leather wing beetle are two good insects
that gardeners bring to the garden center, thinking they
are harmful to the garden.
There are two types
of beneficial insects. Predators attack the pest directly
and can eat many in a day. Parasites, on the other
hand, accomplish their task by laying eggs on the pests’ eggs. The parasites’ eggs
hatch first, and then they feed on the pests’ egg.
Ladybugs are a popular choice to control
pests. Their favorite food is aphids. They also devour
mites and other soft-bodied insects. Ladybug larvae have
an even bigger insect appetite than adults.
Ladybugs also feed on the nectar and the
pollen of plants, so you can make sure they hang around
by having daisy-type plants in your garden, as well as
plants such as yarrow, dill and fennel.
help in the garden by eating a wide variety of pests
including aphids, caterpillars, maggots, earwigs, beetles
and grasshoppers. You buy them in an egg case, which
can be placed in a bush, hedge, or on a limb that’s about 2 feet above the ground.
The warmer the temperature, the sooner they’ll
hatch. Unlike most insects, the praying mantis doesn’t
hatch as larvae. It emerges as a “miniature adult” about
half an inch long. (It then grows through spring and
summer to a length of up to 6 inches.) They stay where
they hatch, so they will be in place when the bad bugs
arrive... nipping potential pest problems in the bud!
Trichogramma is one of the best known of
the parasite variety of beneficial insects. The tiny
parasite lays its eggs inside the eggs of the pest (including
tomato horn worms). The trichogramma larvae then feed
on the unhatched pests.
Before you try to eliminate all the bugs
in your garden, remember that beneficial insects can
help you. When you see evidence of bugs, bring in a sample
in a plastic bag to the garden center. They will help
you identify whether the bug is friend or foe.