Homegrown tomatoes, crisp zucchini, fresh green beans, tender snap peas-gardeners know well the joy of growing and enjoying their own veggies. Unfortunately, those tasty plants often attract bugs as well. Some insects help gardens to flourish while others sneak samples of your harvest without permission.
Learn the difference between beneficial and baneful garden insects below.
Bugs to Banish
The worst garden pests earn that superlative because they feast upon your plants. They nibble on the leaves or even take large bites out of the vegetables you were planning to eat. Take steps to eliminate any of the following bugs when you find them in your garden.
Aphids make every list of the most annoying garden pests. These creatures are tiny, about one-tenth of an inch in length, and come in many colors-including green and light pink. But don’t be fooled by their small size and their fun colors. Aphids multiply quickly and spread to other plants fast. Plus, they feed on essentially any plant, so you should get rid of them as soon as possible.
The book “The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar” makes this insect variety seem like a cute, fun bug-but don’t forget that they crunch holes in leaves on their path toward becoming beautiful butterflies. In fact, they have to eat a large amount of plant matter so they can store enough energy to survive and transform inside their cocoons. If you find these creatures, move them to a different area so your garden can thrive.
Think of spider mites as tiny vampires that suck plant juice instead of blood. They are quite small and repopulate in large numbers, so they can do quite a bit of damage before you notice their presence.
Your plants will look dull or wilted if spider mites have started feeding on them. Unless you notice the infestation early, the mites may also have time to make thin webs in between leaves and plant stalks that could harm the plant.
Thrips look like tiny, translucent worms with legs. This pesky pest often causes the most trouble in the hottest months. During warm conditions, fresh eggs can hatch in about two weeks. Thrips are also troublesome because they can hide inside plant parts like flowers, making them hard to eradicate.
When you find any of these insects in your garden, request eco-friendly pest control that protects your plants while targeting all these pesky bugs.
Bugs to Attract
Unlike the pests named above, helpful garden bugs will not eat your plants. Instead, they usually eat harmful bugs or discourage them from taking up residence in your garden. You can welcome the following insects to your rows of thriving vegetables.
If you don’t visit your garden much when it’s dark outside, you may not realize ground beetles live there. This species is nocturnal, emerging at night to consume pests like slugs and snails. A ground beetle’s prey also includes cutworms and gypsy moth larvae, which are actually types of caterpillars.
Master gardeners know that delicate adult lacewings reach maturity after devouring many garden-dwelling pests as larvae. Lacewing larvae have earned the nickname “aphid lions” because of their huge appetites for aphids. Each larva can eat more than 200 aphids per week. The larvae also eat scales, thrips, and caterpillars.
Lacewing larvae look almost like miniaturized alligators with pincers instead of jaws. Lacewing eggs typically lie under leaves in small groups.
These spotted red bugs aren’t just pretty to look at. Both the full-grown adults and their less developed larvae feast on garden pests. Their favorite meals include spider mites and aphids. Some devoted green thumbs even order ladybugs in the mail and deliberately release them into their gardens to control other bug populations.
Sorry to those with arachnophobia, but most spiders should be welcome guests in your garden. They spin webs that catch insects, thereby controlling the overall bug population. You really only need to worry about poisonous species, such as the black widow or the brown recluse. Next time you see a web on the fence near your pumpkin patch, think of “Charlotte’s Web” and leave it alone.
Spined Soldier Bug
This insect looks quite a bit like the stink bug, but instead of rounded shoulders, it features more pronounced pointy shoulders. The other distinguishing trait you can see is the shorter, thicker nose on the spined soldier bug.
But the most important difference between these two bugs is that spined soldier bugs eat beetle larvae and some types of caterpillars. Stink bugs, on the other hand, love to eat the same fruits and veggies you enjoy. Plus, they obviously smell when crushed.
Remember that even these beneficial bugs can become pests in large numbers. Bigger populations may wander away from your garden and into your home. If you experience this issue, partner with a meticulous pest control company like Chem-Wise. We can keep these bugs out of areas where they aren’t welcome.