It’s that time of year when the sun comes out, the weather warms, flowers blossom, and bugs start to reappear. Yes, creepy crawlers can be pesky, but they’re not all bad. In fact, some of them can even be quite good for your garden. Here, we’ll outline what bugs you should avoid and which ones aren’t such pests after all.
At Vernon Imel Tree Service, our priority is helping you care for and maintain the health of your trees and gardens. We want your yard to be in good health so we’ll begin by going over what bugs you should avoid at all costs. Since Vernon tree service has been serving the Northwest Coast for more than 20 years, we’re going to specifically focus on the bad bugs in the Northwest region.
First, steer clear of mealybugs. These critters often appear in houseplants and greenhouses. They are multi-legged, wingless bugs with a white, cotton-like appearance. Mealybugs suck the sap out of plants, weakening their tissue, and causing the foliage to become discolored. They also excrete a substance known as “honeydew”. It sounds pretty, but trust us, it isn’t. While it initially resembles honey, the substance will eventually turn to a black mold fungus. The coating attracts ants and will also impair the overall health of the plant.
The azalea lace bug likes to target evergreen azaleas and rhododendrons. Like mealybugs, they attack the plant’s leaves. But rather than sucking out the plant’s sap, the azalea lace bug prefers to feed on its chlorophyll instead. This will cause white or yellow dots to form on the top of the leaves while black feces will appear underneath. Once again, the foliage will become discolored, turning white and making the plant worse for its wear. Azalea lace bugs are typically drawn to plants that are already in poor health, so keeping your garden plants properly watered and fertilized will help you avoid them.
While these bugs may not sound great, things can, unfortunately, get worse. If you have a vegetable garden, you’ll want to be wary of a trio of caterpillars known as the tomato hornworm, corn earworm, and cabbage worm. Sounds appetizing, right?
This trio of friends can wreak havoc on your garden vegetables. Like the name suggests, the tomato hornworm is often found on tomato plants, though they occasionally target other plants as well. Since they are green, they often blend in with the plant foliage and go undetected until after they’ve already done their damage. They leave holes in leaves and damage the fruit.
Similarly, the corn earworm often attacks corn and tomatoes but can damage a variety of other vegetables as well. Some even argue that it is the most costly crop pest in North America. It feeds on both the plant’s leaves and the vegetable itself, destroying all the hard work and effort you’ve put into cultivating your garden.
Like its counterparts, the cabbage worm will also do some serious damage to your veggies. As the most common caterpillar of the three, it’s the one you’re most likely to encounter. The cabbage worm targets veggies in the cabbage family, such as broccoli, kale, and cauliflower. Similar to the tomato hornworm, the green cabbage worm can blend easily into the foliage so you’re likely to notice the damage or fecal matter they leave behind before you notice them. Since it’s often difficult to detect cabbage worms until it’s too late, it’s best to prevent their presence in your garden altogether. Companion planting or introducing beneficial insects into your garden are a couple of good ways to guard against their presence.
Which leads us to our next point. To ward off the bad guys, there are a number of beneficial insects you can attract to your garden. First, it’s important to know the different types of beneficial insects. There are the pollinators which, as the name suggests, pollinate fruits and vegetables; the predators which devour the bad bugs so that they don’t devour your plants; and the parasitizes, which lay their eggs on or in the bad bugs so that once their eggs hatch, the larvae will feed on and destroy the host insects. Some, like the ones we’ll discuss here, act as both predators and pollinators.
So, who are these wonder kids that will keep your garden thriving? One is the green lacewing, not to be confused with the azalea lace bug mentioned before. The green lacewing is a predatory beneficial insect, producing larvae with voracious appetites. They feed on mealybugs, caterpillars, and other soft-bodied insects. You can attract adult green lacewings by planting nectar plants or by purchasing eggs or larvae to release into your garden.
Who doesn’t love ladybugs? And they’re loved for good reason. Ladybugs are another beneficial insect. Just as the green lacewings do, ladybugs produce ravenous larvae that look for and consume bad garden bugs. They target soft-bodied insects, including mealybugs.
Hoverflies are another good option to play the good bug role in your garden. A hoverfly resembles a bee but doesn’t pack quite the sting. In fact, they’ll leave you feeling pretty good by being nearly as effective as ladybugs and green lacewings at controlling aphid populations. They function similarly, producing predatory larvae that feed on bad garden bugs. Like ladybugs and green lacewings, adult hoverflies also pollinate flowers, another bonus for gardeners.
If you suspect that your garden has become infested with a bad bug, there’s no need to worry. As discussed, there are ways to get rid of them. Vernon tree service has expert arborists who specialize in fixing all types of tree problems. We can provide tips on how to restore your garden’s health or perform landscaping removal services as needed. Vernon provides reliable tree service so give us a call if you have questions, want more information, or need help with your home’s landscaping.