Wednesday
Jul232014

Bugs You WANT In Your Garden

A praying mantis chills out on an evergreen branch to wait for a meal. Picture by Nick OnestoI love bugs. Good bugs that is. Beneficial insects. Bugs that eat other bugs.

You may have heard of the potato famine back in the 1800's? You can thank the aphids for helping to spread that all over Ireland's potatoes. Ladybugs are an attractive and helpful addition to your garden because they help control aphid populations. A praying mantis will eat any bug it can catch. These insects are graceful looking and useful in the garden. Live ladybugs and praying mantis egg sacks are commonly sold in garden centers, online and through the internet. Ladybugs and Lady Beetles devour aphids. One ladybug can eat up to 5,000 aphids per year! Aphids are extremely detrimental to plant communities. They suck the sap out of plants, which contributes to decline in many ways and even death. They can also transmit diseases between plants.

A feast fit for a Lady Beetle. Picture by Nick OnestoSevere harm can be done before you even know what hit your plants. Pest larvae feed on a plant's roots beneath the soil surface. Beneficial nematodes work underground to eat soil pests like grubs (beetle larvae), flea larvae and maggots (fly larvae), but they don't eat pest nematodes. Grubs (larvae form of beetles) eat the roots of your lawn. When applying, mix the nematodes with water and apply either early in the morning or around dusk as they're sensitive to light. Make sure soil is moist before applying so they can move through the soil and water again after applying. It can take anywhere from 2-30 days to see results, so be patient. There are different types of nematodes that will attack different pests so make sure you choose the correct one for your pest problem.

Mosquitoes, well, I believe we are all familiar with these pesky insects. Itchy bites, West Nile, Malaria, the list goes on. I could write a whole entry on these annoying insects alone. If you're lucky enough to have some dragonflies hanging around, don't chase them away! Dragonflies like to linger close to water and they eat insects like gnats and mosquitoes.

Lightning bugs are a beetle I can get behind. Their larvae like to nosh on slugs and snails. If you've come upon hostas ravaged with holes through the leaves, the likely culprit is slugs. There are many kinds of slugs that will eat a variety of plants, vegetables, flowers, earthworms (which are a garden's friends), and more. They are truly one of the garden's most prolific pests. They can also carry parasites, so make sure you wash your garden edibles carefully before you eat them lest you accidentally ingest a slug.

Tree Care Long Island offers beneficial insect applications. Check with our Plant Healthcare expert, Gary Carbocci, to learn about our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) services to protect your landscape investment. Talk to one of our experienced designers if you need to replace or repair a portion of your landscape damaged by pests.

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