You want your garden to thrive, and anything that attacks it is your opponent. You might think that if it’s in your garden and it crawls or flies, it needs to die. Some of the inhabitants of your garden, however, are helpful. Which of them are on your side? Which ones are not? Let’s look at some examples.
This large green caterpillar will someday become a moth, but in the meantime, it feeds on your plants. It can be up to four inches long and has a horn on its posterior. This is no magical unicorn, for it destroys your tomatoes. As the caterpillar grows in size, its appetite grows, and it eats at a faster rate. Its pupal form exists in the soil during the winter, dreaming of tomatoes as you slog through the gardening off-season. One way to prevent them is to till your soil (before winter) once the growing season is over. Since they’re large and easy to find, you can also pluck them off your tomatoes and dispose of them.
These little green guys are equally damaging for feeding on your plants, and for their ability to multiply, as the females of the species can apparently clone themselves. Sounds unpleasant for you and your plants right? After feeding on the plant, they secrete a sticky fluid that goes on to become sooty mold and harms plants. Regularly monitoring for aphids will help you deal with them before they become more serious.
Some bugs and insects help a garden grow, and could be somewhat beneficial for you to let them stick around. The green lacewing is one of them. They eat aphids and many other pests like spider mites. Their larvae are sizeable little eating machines, munching on everything from aphids to small caterpillars. If it’s another insect and it moves slowly, the green lacewing larvae will probably take care of it for you.
These long-legged, large-eyed insects may sound like beauty queens, but their real beauty is their efficiency in the garden. They’ll kill a wide variety of insects that are out to damage your plants. They’ll even turn on each other if they run out of other bugs to eat. They can be attracted to your garden by planting things like lavender and chamomile.
But if you feel like your garden (or your home, for that matter) has been taken over by these little creatures to an unacceptable point, don’t try to treat it yourself! These jobs are more complicated than they seem and will need professionals to address it for your safety and the safety around you (as you don’t want to use harmful products).
That being said, these are just a few examples of good and bad bugs. Managing them in small instances can reduce the amount of insecticide you need to use. Insects are often collectively thought of as pests, but they can be either the heroes or villains in our garden. Knowing which ones to encourage and which ones to control will surely help your garden flourish. Be sure to check our garden tools to help you navigate your gardens this summer!
List of Garden Pests | No Dig Vegetable Garden
6 Reasons Pest Control is NOT a Do-It-Yourself Job | Proforce
Green Lacewings | Green Lacewings
The Masters of Cloning | Aphids on World’s Plants
Tomato hornworms in home gardens | University of Minnesota
Damsel bugs can be beneficial in the garden | ACES