Know your good bugs and bad bugs


If there is one thing all gardeners hate, it’s finding damaged leaves and produce, and knowing that those tiny pests have destroyed them. However, not all bugs and insects are bad for your plants. Determining which bugs benefit your plants and which to get rid of is essential in keeping the overall health of your garden.

The Most Destructive Bugs

  • Aphids: These pear-shaped bugs with long antennae usually munch on fruits and vegetables, flowers, ornamentals, and shade trees. They cause severe damage since they target the plant’s sap and can quickly overtake a plant.
  • Squash Bugs: These bugs produce pretty, shiny eggs that are nice to look at, but very destructive to your plants. They hatch quickly and multiply fast.
  • Beetles: Some beetles are suitable to your garden, but some beetles defoliate and ultimately kill your plants, like Colorado Potato Beetle, Cucumber beetles, June Bugs and Japanese Beetles, Mexican Bean Beetle and Flea Beetles.
  • Stink Bugs: They are deemed among the most serious agricultural pests. They feed on a wide variety of crops, including apples, apricots, corn, grapes, peaches, and peppers. They’ve caused a years-long pest crisis in North America and Europe.
  • Tarnished Plant Bug: The mottled bugs which can be green or brown in color suck plant juices and also hang out on flowers, fruits, and vegetables, causing them to wilt.
  • Sugar Ants: From the name itself, sugar ants like sugar, and feeds on anything that has it like fruits and sweet vegetables. Aside from it being a notorious agricultural pest, they could destroy your properties as well. So, if you found sugar ants in houses or other structure, call help immediately.

Other garden pests that you should watch out for:

  • Cabbage Worms
  • Grasshoppers
  • Caterpillars
  • Cutworms
  • Scales

The Good Bugs

Though some bugs cause a real headache, some bugs are also beneficial to your plants. Getting rid of them would distort the balance in your garden. Here are some of the good bugs and insects that do useful than bad:

  • Bees: Though they are not predators and can’t help eliminate destructive bugs, bees feed in pollens and nectars that make it possible for flowers and plants to yield.
  • Assassin Bugs: They are efficient killers, and their common targets are caterpillars, grasshoppers, and green vegetable bugs – which are all considered pests.
  • Butterflies: Aside from the aesthetic they add to the garden, butterflies help pollinate flowers.
  • Centipedes: Maybe the only reason why you should keep them despite their nasty sting – they love to dine on slugs.
  • Praying Mantises: They eat a wide range of insects.

Some insects that are beneficial to your plants:

  • Anchor stink bugs
  • Ants
  • Ground beetles
  • Birds
  • Harlequin Bugs
  • Ladybirds
  • Leaf Miners
  • Mosquitoes
  • Nematodes

The Leaf Damage Says a Lot About the Pests

You can recognize the bug behind the chaos in your garden through the leaf damage that they caused. That is if you know what common pests usually do to plants or produce.

For example, sucking damage or deformation will likely be due to the presence of aphids in your garden. Discolored leaves, meanwhile, are usually caused by thrips and mites, and chewed leaves will likely be caused by beetles, caterpillars or sawflies.

Cynipid wasps, some types of aphids, psyllids and other mites, meanwhile, cause abnormal plant growths, while a fly or a moth larva leaves a white pattern on your plants.

How to Get Rid of Garden Pests

Getting rid of pests is no easy task since there can be more than one type of pests wreaking havoc in your garden. So, determining what pest are pestering your plants should be the first course of action. After this, you can now focus on discouraging or getting rid of detrimental bugs and insects.

Building a Healthy Soil

One way to ensuring that pests do not destroy your garden is by creating healthy soil. With the right supply of nutrients, water, oxygen, and root support, plants can withstand some minor pest attacks, research showed.

Make Use of Predators and Plants

Again, not all bugs and insects are bad for your plants. Some may help you eliminate bad bugs by predation. Others, meanwhile, help your plants grow by pollinating and decomposing wastes. So, determine the kind of pest you have and attract their predators using plants that appeal to them. Here are some plants that can lure beneficial insects:

  • Mint
  • Fennel
  • Marigolds
  • Zinnia
  • Parsley
  • Carrots
  • Dill
  • Tansey

Other Pest Solutions

Aside from handpicking these insects and bugs, there are various mechanical and chemical, but non-toxic, ways to repel or kill them.

  • Kitchen Remedies: Some kitchen staples, like garlic, eggshells, hot peppers, apple cider vinegar, beer, and baking soda, can also be used to keep harmful bugs out of your garden.
  • Barriers and traps: If home remedies and plants don’t do the job, you can choose to set up barriers, nets, fences, and paper collars to prevent insects from destroying your plants. You can also use transparent plastic to ensure that the sunshine can still reach the leaves.
  • Water Pressure Sprays: Apply water pressure to force bugs and insects to dislodge from your plants. However, this does not apply to plants that are not sturdy and not deeply rooted.
  • Vacuums: You can also use battery-powered vacuums to remove bugs.

Last Resort: Chemicals or Toxic Cures

If you’re having a pest crisis and all of the solutions mentioned above cannot seem to do the trick, then your last resort is to use chemicals. The downside, however, is that chemicals exempt no one. It kills both destructive and beneficial bugs, and could even affect your plants as well.

  • Horticultural oils: A plant-based oil mixed with emulsifiers.
  • Insecticidal Soaps
  • Boric Acid
  • Neem
  • Adjuvants
  • Copper
  • Lime Sulfur
  • Diatomaceous Earth
  • Pyrethrins
  • Rotenone
  • Spinosad
  • Copper Sulfate

Knowing the difference between good and bad bugs ensures that you get to remove all that causes harm, but also helps you create a balanced ecosystem where plants and insects can co-exist. Knowing your good bugs and bad bugs can make a huge impact on the environment.