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
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
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
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.
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
sealing home cracks and crevices with caulk or foam.
Big-eyed Bugs vs. Chinch Beetles
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 professionals to perform chinch bug treatment is perhaps the best course of action, but inviting
in big-eyed bugs or choosing chinch-resistant turf are natural alternatives.
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
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.
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 bush varieties 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.