Your instinct when finding an insect crawling on one of your many plants could naturally be to try and, well, extinguish it. It’s a natural reaction, but is it based on an outdated preconception? The pest you’re about to crush is in fact doing you a favour, and asking for very little in return. Insects, whether we like it or not, are absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy balance in our garden. Predator and prey control one another and can help maintain one another’s populations. Some of them will even enhance the properties of your soil. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re all welcome. If you’re not careful, you could still end up with a residential pest control problem in your backyard.
Which Bugs Can Help Your Garden?
Thankfully, the number of insects which help out in your garden outnumbers the ones which are considered a bother.
Those accomplished gardeners already know that ladybugs are a welcome sight in the garden. The reason for this because they keep a common garden pest the Aphids population under control. Aphids are small sap-sucking insects and can be incredibly destructive in your garden, and a large part of a ladybug’s diet consists of them. If you’re looking to keep your aphid levels low, then you can even purchase ladybugs by the bag and release them into your garden. Make sure you keep them well fed – if they can’t find enough food on your patch, they’ll happily fly to your neighbor’s in search of a good feed.
Similarly, the green lacewing is considered a very dear friend of just about every gardener. They will also help to control your aphid population and are known for their huge appetite for the pests. However, they’re not particularly fussy and will feed on caterpillars, spider mites and even leafhoppers – all of which you want to keep close control of. The earwig performs a similar chore in your garden and enjoys chowing down on similarly small, soft-bodied pests. Yes, you may find small holes in some plant leaves, but the benefit of having them in your garden far outweighs the harm they cause. Another gardener’s friend which you may not have considered are pollinators – specifically bumblebees. They cross-pollinate and help your precious plants to breed.
Which Ones Are Going to Cause Damage?
We’ve had a look at a few garden insects that you should welcome with open arms – mostly because they feed on troublesome pests. Let’s have a look at those pests and find out exactly why you don’t want them in your garden.
The first that usually comes to everybody’s mind are: snails and slugs. The visible trail of their mucus normally leaves gardeners frustrated. These pests target vegetable plants, and sometimes even ornamental plants. They’ll chew through leaves and create huge, obvious holes. While they may chew up decaying leaves and help put organic nutrition back into the soil, they almost certainly cause more harm than good.
A similarly unwelcome sight in your garden is an aphid which was mentioned earlier. They chew on plant stems, stunt their growth and distort the leaves. Worst of all, they tend to live in large colonies and reproduce extremely quickly. As frustrating as they are, they’re easily removed with stream of water from your garden hose. They also have plenty of predators like aphid midges and lady bugs.
Other garden pests you should be concerned about are Japanese beetles, spider mites and cabbage worms.
Not sure whether a new colony of insects are friend or foe? Speak with a pest control expert and they’ll let you know if you need their help.