Garden Bugs: What Should Stay and What Must Go

Gardening is good for you:

It gets you moving, gets you outside, gets you invested in creating and maintaining beautiful life.

Plus, it is easy enough to start a garden whenever and wherever; with a bag of soil, some pots, and

some seedlings, you can have something growing by this afternoon.

However, maintaining a productive garden takes some know-how, like how often you should water

and prune.

Yet, one aspect of gardening that many beginners overlook is the importance of bugs.

Plants attract a multitude of wildlife, but insects and creepy-crawlies are perhaps the most perplexing

to novices.

Before you drench your new garden with noxious chemicals, you should learn how to distinguish

between good bugs and bad bugs so your plants can be happy and healthy ― just like you.

Rove Beetles vs. Earwigs

Garden Bugs: What Should Stay and What Must Go

Both of these bugs are long, flat, and slender, but one eats other insects that can ruin plants while the

other does untold damage to outdoor and indoor spaces.

Rove beetles’ favorites foods are mites, aphids, mosquitoes, fleas, and maggots, which should make

them humans’ best friends.

They love living in gardens, where there is usually an abundance of decaying organic matter ― fallen

leaves, compost, dead insects ― for them to nestle down in.

Though rove beetles can come in many variations, they are usually gray or brown with short, square

wings that aren’t particularly good for flying.

Garden Bugs: What Should Stay and What Must Go

As a result, you’ll probably see them scurrying on their legs, raising their abdomen in a comical fashion.

Conversely, earwigs are major pests.

When they aren’t swarming gardens, devouring everything from lettuce to petunias, they are invading

homes and pinching humans with their sharp forceps.

Though earwigs aren’t poisonous, they are incredibly annoying.

The bugs are less than an inch long, ranging in color from red-brown to black, with long whip-like

forceps on the end of their abdomens.

You can discourage earwigs by cleaning up your garden ― removing stones and leaf litter ― and

with caulk or foam.

Big-eyed Bugs vs. Chinch Beetles

Garden Bugs: What Should Stay and What Must Go

Both of these species seem oddly menacing, due to their tiny size, but one has positive predation habits

while the other decimates lush, green lawns.

The big-eyed bug is aptly named, considering its large, backward-projecting eyes that bulge from the

front of its broad head.

Though, because they are no more than 1/4-inch long, they are easy to confuse with other miniscule insects.

Present in nearly all gardens across the country, big-eyed bugs eat all sorts of insect eggs, as well as white

flies, caterpillars, and (believe it or not) chinch bugs.

Meanwhile, the chinch bug is even smaller ― about 1/6-inch long ― with a black body covered in tiny hairs.

If you can get close enough, you should find triangular spots on the edges of its wings, which is the best

indication that you have a true pest in your garden.

Chinch bugs love grass most of all, and when the weather turns hot and dry during the summer months,

populations with chow down on your lawn, removing the lawn’s fluids and turning it a disheartening


Hiring is perhaps the best course of action, but inviting

in big-eyed bugs or choosing chinch-resistant turf are natural alternatives.

Lady Bugs vs. Mexican Bean Beetles
Garden Bugs: What Should Stay and What Must Go

Everyone knows what a lady bug looks like, but not everyone can tell the difference between this friendly

garden insect and their devastating lookalikes.

Red is the most famous, but lady bugs come in all sorts of warm shades, including yellow and orange.

There are more than 5,000 species of lady bug worldwide, and the size and shape of their spots are

used to determine their taxonomy.

Lady bugs are voracious, especially when they find a reliable source of their favorites foods, aphids

and scale.

Planting geraniums is an effective way to attract lady bugs to your garden.

However, if ever you see a copper lady bug, you should be very afraid for your greenery.

Garden Bugs: What Should Stay and What Must Go

One of the few harmful beetles, the Mexican bean beetle is a yellowish-brown from head to toe, with

eight distinct black spots on each wing.

Adults and larvae alike gain nutrients from the undersides of leaves, ruining plants by transforming

their greenery into dead lace.

Because Mexican bean beetles usually only go after legume crops ― like cowpeas or garden beans ―

avoiding these plants should keep them away.

Still, if you want to grow legumes, you might choose over pole-beans, as they seem to

survive damage better.

Photo: Rove beetle image 


Are you bugged by bugs in your garden?

How do you deal with bugs in your garden in a safe, healthy and eco-friendly way?

Share your thoughts and comments with us.