Rid Your Garden of Bad Bugs

There are many plants that can serve as bug repellants. Chives and leeks deter the carrot fly and can also improve the overall health of garden plants. Garlic helps to repel nasty aphids and Japanese beetles. When planted alongside onions, this plant also deters moles and mice. Basil shoos away flies and mosquitoes; try setting some around the porch or other outdoor areas. Borage and tomato plants will fend off tomato worms, and marigolds ward off a number of harmful insects including nematodes and Japanese beetles.

Incorporating some mint and rosemary around the garden will discourage the egg-laying of many insects, such as the cabbage moth. To keep ants away, try planting some mint and tansy around the house. Tansy is also good for keeping Japanese beetles and mosquitoes at bay. Believe it or not, spinach is actually a deterrent for slugs, and thyme is good for repelling cabbageworms. Pyrethrum planted anywhere within the landscape will help with aphids. Implementing plants that are labeled as pest-resistant in and around the garden is also a good way to ward off harmful insects. For example, planting resistant varieties of azalea or rhododendron will deter insects that are normally destructive to these shrubs, such as weevils.

Mulch can also serve as either a deterrent for bad bugs or an attraction for the good ones. For instance, mulching with heavy straw deters numerous types of beetles; most of which are harmful. On the other hand, mulching with hay or dry grass is a good way to attract spiders. These creatures love hiding beneath it where they will catch numerous pesky insects.

Not all bugs are bad; in fact, there are many insects that are quite beneficial to the garden. These helpful creatures aid in decomposing plant material, pollinating crops, and devouring pests which are harmful to your garden. For this reason, you should consider keeping them around. The best way to draw these beneficial bugs into your garden is by growing their favorite flowering plants. Some of these include mint, daisy, wild carrot (Queen Anne’s lace), cosmos, dill, tansy, marigold, and clover. You can also attract these insects by offering them a ‘bug bath.’ Somewhat like a birdbath, this shallow container is filled with stones or gravel and just enough water to keep it moist. Since insects are prone to drowning, add some larger stones to the dish to serve as suitable resting sites. This way they will be able to drink the water without becoming immersed in it.

Parasitic wasps may be tiny, but their presence is of great importance. These beneficial insects lay their eggs in the bodies of numerous pests, feeding off of them and eventually killing them. Some of their victims include the hornworm, aphid, armyworm, and cabbageworm. You can welcome these parasitic friends into the garden with plants such as dill, yarrow, white clover, stinging nettle, and wild carrot. You may be surprised to learn that the good deeds of both the centipede and millipede far outweigh the bad. Centipedes wipe put all sorts of soil-dwelling pests, such as slugs, while millipedes help break down organic matter. Assassin bugs do just as their names imply. These insects are a natural part of the garden and help suppress harmful bug populations by feeding on flies, beetles, mosquitoes, and caterpillars.

Aphids, a common nuisance in the garden, are extremely destructive to plants. They not only suck out the sap but spread disease as well. However, there are a number of good bugs that will take advantage of their presence by devouring the harmful pests. The aphid midge is just one of them. If you plant some flowering weeds, such as wild carrot and yarrow, between your garden crops, you are sure to attract another helpful insect. The adult hoverfly may not do much; but just one of its larvae will do the trick, devouring approximately 400 aphids during its development. Lacewing larvae also feed on aphids as well as on mealy bugs, scales, moth eggs, mites, and small caterpillars. These insects can be encouraged into the garden by providing water sources and flowering weeds. Another aphid-eating insect is the kindly lady bug. Soft-bodied insects, as well as their eggs, are also a favorite of lady bugs. These attractive insects are tempted into the garden with flowering weeds and herbs that include dandelions, wild carrots, yarrow, dill, and angelica.

Pirate bugs attack many bad insects and are especially fond of thrips, spider mites, and small caterpillars. Plant some goldenrod, daisies, alfalfa, and yarrow to charm their presence. Pillbugs, also known as sowbugs, feed on decaying organic matter and do not pose a threat within the garden unless overpopulation occurs. If this happens, marigolds can often take care of the problem. The praying mantis is a popular garden friend. This insect will feed on virtually any type of insect including crickets, beetles, caterpillars, aphids, and leafhoppers. Although most beetles are harmful to plants in the garden, ground beetles are not. They feed on cutworms, caterpillars, snails, slugs, and other soil-dwelling insects. Incorporating white clover into the garden entices this good bug. Commonly taking shelter beneath stone or wooden walkways are valuable decomposers called rove beetles. Besides feeding on organic matter, they also eat harmful insects such as snails, slugs, aphids, mites, and nematodes. The soldier beetle can be enticed into the garden by mixed planting s of hydrangeas, goldenrod, and milkweed where it will feed on caterpillars, aphids, and grasshopper eggs.

Did you know that at least 80 percent of pollination actually comes from honeybees? Bumblebees are also good pollinators of fruits and vegetables. All bees should be welcomed into the garden to ensure healthy plants and crops. Maintain a water source and plant an array of both nectar and pollen plants so that these beneficial insects will be sure to visit often. Becoming familiar with the insects that often visit your garden is the best defense when combating harmful bugs. Don’t fight them with harmful pesticides. Pesticides can hurt beneficial insects, as well as plants, and can be dangerous if not used properly; therefore, they should not be implemented. Instead, incorporate a variety of useful plants and welcome the good bugs; let them do all of the work.

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