My first reaction to bugs in the garden was rarely positive… In my mind, all bugs were competition for my precious vegetables! As it turns out, I was about half-right. Some garden bugs are good and some garden bugs are bad. Here’s how to tell the difference.
Aphids tend to cluster and will collectively suck moisture and nutrients out of leaves, leaving them dry and damaged. Warning signs of aphid activity include ants and curled leaves. Removing them is as simple as washing them off with a garden hose or spraying a bit of Safer garden spray on both sides of all leaves, but be prepared to be diligent as these pests like to come back.
Ladybugs can eat up to 60 aphids a day! They also like to snack on a variety of other destructive insects and larvae. These garden helpers stay close to their food source and lay their eggs strategically so that emerging larvae will help with pest management as much as adults.
Caterpillars can wreak havoc on the foliage of garden plants. They like to chew on leaves from the outside in and are well-camouflaged, allowing them to hide in plain sight! Make sure to check both sides of all leaves to catch these pests and pick them off by hand. You can also spray leaves with Safer.
Spiders are the ultimate garden helpers. They eat all sorts of bad bugs and make beautiful webs too! It’s best to leave guys alone to continue their good work.
Cucumber Beetles (bad)
These can be spotted or striped and like to hang around cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and beans. If you find that the stems of your seedlings are being eaten off, leaves are yellowing and wilting, and holes are appearing in leaves, cucumber beetles are probably your issue. Removing them by hand can keep them at bay.
Soldier Beetles (good!)
These guys are one of the best bugs to have around. They feed on caterpillars, aphids, mealybugs, and mites. Soldier beetles are attracted to flowers, so be sure to add lots of pollinators to your garden.
Now arming yourself with these guidelines… go forth and garden!