Friend or Foe?
Can you tell the difference between garden helpers and garden pests? This quick guide will help you recognize which insects are beneficial and which should be removed.
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 squishing them and washing them off with a garden hose or spraying a bit of Safer garden spray on both sides of all leaves. Be prepared to be diligent as these pests like to come back.
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.
Predatory Wasps (friend)
Wasps are not welcome guests at a picnic, but they are beneficial to the garden. Wasps are predators and will eat many pests in the garden. To help alleviate their impact on your outdoor dining experiences, place a small amount of meat on a saucer away from your picnic location about 20 minutes before your meal.
Leaf Miner (foe)
The Leaf miners are the larvae of several different insects that live and eat the inside of leaves in their larval stage. Leaf miner leave a characteristic track or bubbling pattern on leaves and seem to especially love chard, beet greens, and nasturtium leaves. The first line of defense is to remove affected leaves and toss into the trash (not your compost pile). In extreme cases Safer can be used.
Spiders are the ultimate garden helpers. They eat all sorts of bad bugs and make beautiful webs too! It’s best to leave these guys alone to continue their good work.
Cucumber Beetles (foe)
Cucumber beetles can be spotted or striped and like to hang around cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and beans. They can range in color from yellow to green to orange, mimicking lady bugs with their spots. 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.
Earwigs (friend and foe)
Earwigs are indiscriminate eaters and will gobble up garden pests, beneficial insects, and plants alike. As predators in the garden they can be very helpful and especially love aphids, however young seedlings can be in danger of being completely eaten. The best course of action is to reduce earwig habitat (leaf detritus) near your plants to limit the number of earwigs in your garden.
Butterflies and Bees (friend)
Butterflies and Bees are pollinators in the garden and are vital to success in producing fruit and veggies. To help attract butterflies and bees, be sure to have plenty of florals and flowering herbs mixed in with your other plants.
Spider Mites (foe)
Spider mites live in colonies, often on the underside of leaves, and thrive in warm dry weather. They pierce plant leaves to suck out liquid causing a spotted pattern (similar in appearance to rust). Spider mites weave a very fine gauzy web that can be difficult to distinguish from beneficial spider webbing. Spider mites are very small but they are visible if you look closely. They can spread quickly and cause widespread damage in the garden. To combat spider mites spray affected plants several times over a week with Safer and clean hands and arms thoroughly before working elsewhere in the garden.
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.
Soldier Beetles (friend)
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.