Wow! My garden looks great this year. All of my plants seem to be celebrating the plentiful rains over the last two seasons. Even the cankerworms have been few and far between in my neighborhood. But as the garden blossoms with color, the bugs are making themselves known. In years past, I would have reached for the nearest bottle of chemical killer but I’ve learned there are much easier and eco-friendly solutions to getting rid of pests in my garden.
First, a lesson in garden pests: not all bugs are bad. There are a number of bugs that are actually good for your garden. These so-called “beneficial bugs” eat those unwanted pests that destroy the plants in your garden.
Ladybugs are one kind of beneficial bug. These dainty six-legged insects can devour 5,000 aphids in less than a year! Aphids are tiny, pear-shaped insects with two tube looking cornicles projecting from their abdomen. Aphids love to feed on the new growth of many garden crops and ornamental plants. If you release a few hundred ladybugs once or twice a season into your garden you won’t have a problem with aphids. Of course, you have to get them to stay in your garden to be effective so it’s best to release them at dusk when fewer of them will fly away. It’s also smart to water the plants with the aphid infestation. The ladybugs will go there first for a drink before looking for food and then stay for the meal. And, don’t worry, the variety of ladybugs that you buy for the garden is not the same variety that will seek shelter inside your home once the temperature drops.
The Praying Mantis is another beneficial bug for your garden. They eat flies, mosquitoes, spiders, aphids, and leafhoppers. They’re also entertaining to watch! Spring is the time to put their eggs in your garden to hatch but be warned; a single praying mantis egg can yield hundreds of mantids!
Beneficial bugs are an easy, eco-friendly solution to getting rid of pests in your garden. You can find ladybugs and praying mantis eggs at smaller, local garden centers and they can be ordered online too. It’s yet one more way to Do Your Part to use fewer harmful chemicals in the environment around us.
The Beneficial Insect Company sells bugs online and they're located in Glendale Springs, North Carolina.