to Keep the Good Bugs in Your Garden©
All of us who garden
and who are eco-conscious try to figure out ways to eliminate the
“bad” bugs in our gardens. Those slugs and bugs who not only eat up
our flowers and veggies, but just give us the “creepy crawlers” when
we see them!
Gone are the days of
DDT and many other chemicals we used way back when we did not know any
better. We must remember
that even today, pesticides not only kill the “bad” bugs, but the
“good” bugs also.
We can buy “good” bugs for our gardens or we can invite them into our gardens by growing plants that attract “good” bugs and let them eat the “bad” bugs. Companies sell beetles that are in hibernation; when they wake up in your garden, they’re not likely to stick around. The first response of any hibernating creature when it wakes up is to disperse, so the beetles fly away rather than staying in your backyard. So it makes more sense to me to grow plants that attract the bugs and beetles you want.
"good bug," ladybugs will eat aphids, mealy bugs, scale,
leafhoppers and other soft bodied pests. They keep on eating until the
bad bugs are gone, laying their own eggs in the process. When new pests
arrive, fresh ladybugs will be waiting. These lovable little bugs really
do work for you, plus they will be doing something favorable for the
Note: Release at
sundown (because they don’t fly at night).
As we know the most commonly recognized beneficial insect is the ladybug
or lady beetle, but did you know that there are actually several
slightly different types of ladybeetles?
species is the Twelve-spotted ladybeetle. This insect is pinkish-red in
color with 12 black spots and more oval or elongated in shape compared
to other ladybeetles. As we have stated all these ladybeetles, both
adults and larvae, are predators of soft-bodied insects like aphids,
mealybugs, scale and also eat egg masses of other types of insects.
are very different in appearance than the adult beetle, and most people
when looking at the larvae have no idea that it is a baby ladybeetle.
The larvae look like very small, flat, slim, black alligators with
orange spots and are about 1/2" long. Aphids are a preferred food
source for ladybeetle larvae, and they are voracious predators eating
even more harmful insects that the adult beetles do.
Gardeners sometimes think these purple, dragon-like critters with spines/warts and big legs are pests, but if they’re in your garden, they’re helping you out.
People may think these are causing damage to the plant when in reality they are destroying the aphid population. The worst thing you could do is go out and spray the larvae.Syrphid Flies
|These flies are called by several names, such as flower flies or hover flies. Most are brightly colored, yellow or orange and black, and may resemble bees or yellowjacket wasps. However, syrphid flies are harmless to people. Usually they can be seen feeding on flowers. It is the larval stage of the syrphid fly that preys on insects. Variously colored, the tapered maggots crawl over foliage and can eat dozens of small, soft-bodied insects each day. Syrphid flies are particularly important in controlling aphid||
in the season, when cooler temperatures may inhibit other predators.
appearance to syrphid fly larvae is a small, bright orange predatory
midge (Aphidoletes). These insects often can be seen feeding
within aphid colonies late in the season.
They are purchased
as egg casings which are set in shrubs around the garden. Hatching takes
about 2 weeks, after which the Mantis will begin to consume insects.
Unfortunately they will also eat some beneficial insects (not
ladybugs though) if sufficient pest bugs are not available. Praying
mantis tends to be a curious and friendly bug, which may end up keeping
you company as you work in the garden.
Predator mites are very useful in controlling spider mites and two
spotted mites, both indoors and in the garden. They are purchased as
adults which will eat 1-3 adult mites or up to 6 mite eggs each day.
|Spined Soldier Bug|
||Another beneficial insect popping up in many area gardens is the Soldier beetle, also called the Pennsylvania Leather-wing. This beetle is about 1/2" long, with an elongated body, golden or yellowish-brown in color and has black markings on the legs, head, and underside and rear abdomen section. The adults feed on pollen, flower nectar and other small insects while the larva feed on small caterpillars, grasshopper eggs and other beetles. Their eggs are laid in the soil and the whitish, flattened and hairy larvae feed at the surface of the soil. There are two generations of Soldier beetle per season.|
Spined Soldier Bug
is often called “stink bugs”.
They are normally purchased as a combination of nymphs and
adults. Because they are generally only effective for a month or so, it
is sometimes necessary to release additional predators if the adult
population has diminished or if subsequent plantings are desired.
A large number of wasps from several families prey on insect pests. Many
take their prey, whole or in pieces, back to their mud, soil or paper
nests to feed to the immature wasps. These hunting wasps can be
important in controlling Garden insect pests. For example, the common Polistes
paper wasps, when hunting, may thoroughly search plants and feed on
caterpillars, often providing substantial control of these insects.
||All spiders feed on insects or other small arthropods. Most people are familiar with many common web-making species. However, there are many other spiders -- wolf spiders, crab spiders, jumping spiders -- that do not build webs but instead move about and hunt their prey on soil or plants. These less conspicuous spiders can be important in controlling insect pests such as beetles, caterpillars,|
|leafhoppers and aphids.
This is a picture of a crab spider.
Trichogramma wasps are tiny wasps which prey on the eggs of more than
200 worm type pests, including borers, webworms, and many types of moth
caterpillars. The wasps lay their eggs directly into the pest's eggs,
killing the eggs as they hatch. As soon as the wasps mature, they will
fly off in search of new eggs to parasitize. Different species of
Trichogramma wasps are more effective against certain pests, so purchase
eggs appropriate for the pests which have invaded
The Green Lacewing is a common insect in much of North America. Adults
feed only on nectar, pollen and aphid honeydew, but their larvae are
active predators. They will attack and destroy several species of
aphids, spider mites, thrips, whiteflies, eggs of leafhoppers, moths,
leafminers, small caterpillars, beetle larvae and the tobacco budworm.
They will also eat the long-tailed mealybug often found in greenhouses
and interior plantscapes.
These eggs are
shipped in a medium of rice hulls to facilitate ease of spreading. The
1,000 eggs are so small that they would easily fit inside something as
small as half a pea! But upon hatching they have voracious
appetites, consuming up to 1,000 aphids a day! Adults will lay
eggs and the cycle will perenniate in your garden for years.
This insect is
normally purchased in the egg stage, and allowed to hatch out in the
proximity of an insect problem. The larvae will feed for only 2 or 3
weeks before becoming adults, at which time it may become necessary to
introduce additional larvae to your garden rather than relying on the
reproduction habits of your adults. Lacewings are most effective when a
large number of the larvae are introduced into a limited area.
These microscopic insects will seek out and destroy over 200 kinds
of soil dwelling and wood boring insects, including cutworms, armyworms,
rootworms, weevils, grubs, fungus gnat larvae, and many more. They are
completely safe for people, pets and the environment, and are compatible
with other beneficial insects. You can buy these in cartons from your
gardening store or on line.
beneficial nematodes are microscopic in size, they cannot be seen by the
naked eye. But the seven million
active (live) nematodes in each container will hunt down,
penetrate and kill most soil dwelling pests. When mixed with water and
applied to the infected area, they swim to and destroy your garden
pests. Results can be seen almost immediately!
are microscopic worms which seek out and then eat their way into the
bodies and killing many soil dwelling pests including grubs, weevils and
webworms. Soil conditions and the method of releasing the nematodes are
critical, so be sure to read and follow the directions. Nematodes must
be replaced each spring.
Once you buy the
“good” bugs you have to keep them there and planting the right
plants help greatly.
which attract and provide homes for beneficial insects include
Alyssum, Butterfly weed, Caraway, Clover, Coriander, Dill, Fennel,
Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Wild carrot and Yarrow.
These are all easy to grow.
I like to plant
basil in and around my tomatoes as they help control bugs. This year, in
my patio containers I have put large pots of tomatoes ringed with basil. I also plant marigolds in my tomato beds because they help
Large numbers of
beneficial predatory insects can usually be found in areas or on plants
with high populations of harmful insects like aphids. When the harmful
insects are gone, the predatory insects will leave also.
“Tread the Earth
Lightly” and in the
meantime… may your day be filled with….Peace, light and love,
“ONE-TIME” publishing rights
), free lance writer, award winning artist and avid gardener is
mother of 5 and the grandmother of 8.
For almost 40 years she was an International real estate
consultant and during the last 20 years of her career traveled to many
parts of the world. She
has been a cancer and stroke survivor since 1992.
While working and raising her children she had many hobbies
including being a very serious home-vintner for approximately 14 years
while residing in upstate New York in St. Lawrence County producing
2,000 to 3,000 bottles of wine a year.
She was the president of the St. Lawrence County chapter of the
American Wine Society in Potsdam
"Tread the Earth Lightly" & in the meantime
may your day be filled with...
Peace, Light, and Love,
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