Home & Garden

5 bugs your garden needs

5 bugs your garden needs

Author: Canadian Living

Home & Garden

5 bugs your garden needs

In the world of gardening, there's a battle between good and evil: the battle between good bugs and bad bugs. Good bugs are beneficial insects that eat other bugs, primarily those that like to eat our plants. Using bugs to fight other bugs is an important element of what we horticulturalists call integrated pest management, or IPM. Beneficial bugs are nature's way, and my way, of keeping garden pests in check.

A key part of welcoming the good guys into our gardens is being able to identify them – and their larvae. It's also important not to use chemicals, which are banned in some regions.

Here's a list of the bugs that are on our side.

Ladybugs work to rid our gardens of soft-bodied insects such as aphids, mealy bugs and scale insects. Their dietary delights are the egg masses of many other insects. Ladybug larvae are soft-bodied, with black and orange spots. Most easily recognized is, of course, the adult ladybug, with its black-spotted hard orange shell.

Dragonflies are symbolic insects in many Asian cultures. Both adults and nymphs live and fly around water; they consume many unwanted insects, including the pesky mosquito.

Green lacewings, also called "aphid lions," are known for their affection for consuming aphids, but will also feed on eggs and larvae of other insects. Green lacewings have large transparent wings with green and black veins.

Wasps are commonly thought of as pests that get in the way of gardening and enjoying the outdoors. But many wasp varieties help our gardens. Some pollinate plants, while others, such as mud daubers, hornets and yellow jackets, feed on insects (in particular, those in worm form, such as cabbage worms and army worms).

Praying mantises look prehistoric and have stood the test of time by eating many bad bugs in our gardens. Although known for being cannibalistic, praying mantises mainly prey on insects such as grasshoppers, blowflies, wasps, houseflies, moths, cockroaches and spiders.

So next time, before you decide to squish a bug, just check its stripes – or spots – and leave the good guys alone.

Page 1 of 2 - head to page 2 for advice on what to plant to attract butterflies.

Frankie's fab 5 plants for attracting butterflies
Butterfly bush: A fast-growing flowering shrub that comes in a variety of colours. It will grow up to two metres tall in one season, but dwarf forms are available. Hardiness zones 4 to 9.

An important nectaring plant for many butterflies. Grows to 90 to 120 cm tall. Hardiness zones 3 to 9.

Parsley: Italian parsley, in particular, is a host plant for caterpillars, which love to munch on the tasty greenery. Annual herb. Grows to 30 to 45 cm tall.

Joe Pye weed: Native to most regions of Canada, this flowering perennial can be found in many marsh areas. Grows to 210 to 300 cm tall; dwarf varieties are available. Hardiness zones 3 to 9.

Bee balm:
A perennial nectar-bearing plant. Grows to 100 cm tall. Hardiness zones 3 to 9.

Here are 7 ways to keep mosquitoes at bay.

Find more great gardening tips here.

Page 2 of 2

This story was originally titled "Pest Control" in the June 2010 issue.

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5 bugs your garden needs