Finally, I’ve been getting the in the last of the tomato plants, putting up the green bean lattice and cucumber tower, and removing the last bits of winter straw to finish planting seeds and seedlings for this summer’s hopeful bounty. I spent yesterday harvesting some early spring vegetables, collards, mixed salad greens, spring onions, potatoes, asparagus, and a ton of parsnips!
I’m so excited about summer’s veggies that are lurking just around the corner…eggplants, peppers, squash, green beans, and my favorite the many shades of tomatoes that are happily growing in my garden as we speak. There’s nothing better than heading out to the garden before dinner and picking perfectly ripe, warm tomatoes off the plant to be sliced with fresh creamy mozzarella and basil and the best olive oil and tangy balsamic vinegar I can find. Until, you get out to your garden one afternoon to see the damage the horrible pests have done to your prefect garden that you’ve literally poured blood, sweat, and tears into. So, I thought I would write about the good bugs that we love to see in the garden every day and the bad one’s we so desperately hate to find.
Good Bugs: There are many good bugs that only offer benefits to your hard work, here are a few to notice in the garden and find ways to keep them there for the growing season.
- Lady Bugs/ Lady Beetles- We all love them! They feed on nasty aphids and most soft-bodied insects. They are attracted to flower nectar and pollen so make sure to plant some flowering annuals and perennial to keep them around all summer long. You can even buy them at farm and garden supply stores or mail order catalogs and release them into your garden.
- Hover Flies-These guys look like small bees with stripes. They are also attracted to flower nectar and pollen. They also pollinate strawberries and raspberries, causing them to produce larger fruits and higher yields. Using companion plants to help attract hover flies.
- Dragonflies- We all know what the look like, but bet you didn’t know they eat mosquitos, aphids, and other pests. There are over 80 species of dragonflies but they are dramatically decreasing as our wetlands continue to disappear.
- Honey bees- One of the most important pollinators. They help keep gardens healthy. But the bee population has been decreased by 30% due to pesticide use, loss of habitat, and imported disease. When there are no bees, there is no food. Remember the more bees you have the more fruit on your plants! I plant sunflowers every year to bring in as many bees as I can.
Bad Bugs: Here are a few to keep your eyes out for this summer!
- Aphids- They can destroy your garden in a matter of days and they cause tens of millions of dollars in damage every year. They are small and soft-bodied and range in colors from pink and green to black. They feed on the sap from shoots, leaves and flowers.
- Japanese Beetles- They are very prominent in our Mid-Atlantic region. They feed on roots, flowers, and foliage. They are usually metallic green and copper in color and they congregate in large numbers.
- Leaf Miners-They are the larvae of beetles, flies, and moths. They leave squiggly transparent lines in the foliage of plants and can even cause complete devastation of the plant, especially vegetables and greens.
- Hornworms- Larvae of a large moth, the size of a hummingbird. They are pale green in color, grow to be almost 4 inches long and have horns. They feed on tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes. They can eat all the leaves off a plant in only a few days!
Let me know your gardening experiences with good and bad bugs or if you have any feedback, I’d love to hear from you.
For more information on good and bad bugs for your garden visit.
Top 10 Good Insects for your Garden- www.mama-knows.com/gardening-tips