Creepy Crawlers: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

by on October 30, 2012


Good Bugs

Assassin Bug
These bad boys are good for gardeners because they love to feast on the bugs that most harm your garden. Be on your watch though, they’ll bite you too and it won’t feel good.

Green Lacewing
It is the larvae of the green lacewing that is the most predatory. They devour aphids as quickly as they can impale them with their sharp mandibles.

Lady Beetle
Who needs a cute little lady bug when the lady beetle delivers a much bigger punch? From aphids to mealybugs to scale bugs, the lady beetle doesn’t call them bad, it calls them ‘dinner’.

Praying Mantis
It’s easy to have a love/hate relationship with the praying mantis. Because they are nondiscriminatory predators, they’re as likely to eat a beneficial bug as a nasty one. They are single-handedly equipped to handle even the largest of the garden pests though, and if you are lucky enough to spot one in the garden, they can be pretty mesmerizing to watch in action.

Syrphid Fly
Spot a new bee in the garden? Not so fast! It just might be the mighty syrphid fly. Syrphids are excellent pollinators, but their real benefit is with the syrphid maggots. These tiny creepy-crawlers are to aphids what zombies are to brains, and they will crawl virtually anywhere in the garden to get them – even in those tightly-clustered leaves where aphids love to hide.


Bad Bugs

Of the 4,400 types of aphids that are known to exist, about 250 of them seem to exist solely to make things difficult for farmers and urban gardeners alike. Depending on the type, aphids may be green, pink, brown, black, or even nearly transparent.

Cabbage Worm / Cabbage Moth
Any one of four types of annoying bugs that find cabbage, broccoli and other brassicas irresistible. The larvae are the real bad guys here, eating holes into leaves and consuming the tissue inside.

Tomato Hornworm
The tomato hornworm is easy to distinguish from the tobacco hornworm as it will have a series of V-shaped marks on it while the tobacco hornworm will have a series of straight lines (like a cigarette). Either may be found on plants in the tomato family. If your tomato plants are suddenly leafless, the hornworm is likely the culprit.

Japanese Beetle
While most often attracted to flowering plants and trees like roses and crape myrtles, the Japanese beetle can easily become a nuisance if you have those plants as well as grapes, hops or linden trees in your area. They destroy leaves by consuming the issue, leaving a skeleton-like structure.

Spider Mite
If you spot a silky web on the underside of leaves, it may well be spider mites. Some varieties of this pest that feeds on leaf cells can hatch in as little as 3 days.

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