Warm weather doesn’t just invite friends and families for a garden picnic, but also calls all varieties of bugs to join as well. If not appropriately managed, these unwanted visitors can drive your guests back indoors.
The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” holds true when managing bugs in your garden. While they may look like a nuisance, there are also good bugs that are healthy for your plants. In managing pests, it’s crucial to distinguish which ones are the bad bugs and the good bugs.
With over 1.5 million recorded insect species in the world, about 3 percent of them are nuisance pests. Don’t get overwhelmed, yet. The good news is, there are ways to control and manage that substantial number of bad bugs.
Here’s a list of bad bugs you should look out for and how to manage them.
1. Stink Bug
This brown marmorated bug has been residing in the United States for more than 20 years, causing havoc throughout the Upper Midwest, West Coast, and Mid-Atlantic. Their feeding-frenzy manifests through the inedible corky spots of fruits and vegetables.
During winter, when they’re not busy attacking your tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches, raspberries, apples, squash, corn, beans and other home garden crops, they generally take solace in your home spaces and attics in hordes.
Note that these stinkies have their name for a reason. Their unpleasant odor is triggered when they’re squished or disturbed, so you need to be careful in getting rid of them.
End the stink bugs’ veggie-fruit love affair in your garden by:
- Keeping your garden debris-free. They can nestle in decaying plant matter or decomposing logs. You can stop them from overpopulating by keeping your garden free from their potential breeding grounds.
- Ever wonder who else doesn’t like irony? Stink Bugs. Try planting smelly plants such as catnip, thyme, garlic, lavender, chrysanthemum, marigold, and radishes. These odiferous arthropods repel at these kinds of plants. Talking about a taste of your own medicine.
- You can also make a DIY spray at home for these crawlers, which is also useful indoors. Gardener’s Path has some good advice on different types of deterrents you can try.
- The saying “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” applies in this method of obliterating these pests. In this case, the referred enemy are the parasitic wasps. They can stop the development of baby stink bugs by laying their eggs on the underdeveloped eggs of stink bugs. To attract these wasps, you can try planting purple tansy, French marigold, and buckwheat.
- You can also utilize beaks from wrens, bluebirds, and cardinals in controlling stink bugs. It happens to be their favorite snack in the bug category. Look for the ways on how to attract these fellas to your garden.
- Wood ash can also serve as a repellent from stink bugs, snails, and slugs. To test, you can spread even layer of wood ash around your plant. It’ll be like hitting three pests with one spread.
This elongated, flattened insect grows in less than an inch in length. Their colors first start as white to olive-green until they mature and turn to light red-brown or black. They feed on plant materials, dead or living, such as lettuce, marigolds, zinnias, roses, strawberries, and dahlias, and some other insects like rove beetles.
These nocturnal creepers prefer moist and dark areas such as organic debris, mulch, and cracks, and crevices, not just on flower pots but can also be in your basement and home’s crawl spaces. Their forcep-like pincers located on the end of their abdomen can pinch your skin, but they’re not poisonous. Preventative measures can be put in place to reduce these and other pests from coming in your home.
Keep earwigs from taking up residence in your garden or your home by:
- Keeping your landscape free from any possible hideout such as debris, leaf litter, and stones.
- Keeping a safe distance between mulches and the foundation of your house.
- Sealing and repairing cracks and crevices around windows, doors, and screens.
- Trimming your shrubs regularly.
3. Mexican Bean Beetle
Belonging to the Epilachna varivestis genus, this notorious garden pest is considered a harmful member of the lady beetle family. It’s attracted to different kinds of cowpeas and garden beans grown as crops. Its favorite are snap beans, wax beans, and lima beans.
This beetle grows to about a quarter of an inch with a copper color and has a distinct eight black dots on each of its wings. Its young offspring have large spines and yellow. They both feed on the plants’ stems, undersides of leaves, contributing to the lace-like appearance after infestation, and pods.
On the surface of the bottom, leaves are where the adult beetles breed in groups of 40 to 60. The rapid growth of their population can cause irreparable damage to the plants’ ability to photosynthesize. Severe infestation can cause affected plants to weaken and eventually die.
Put a stop on this infamous beetles group by:
- Picking leguminous plants that can be planted early and matures fast. It will let you harvest your crops before the beetles can grips its claws to them and do irreversible damage.
- Frequently, these beetles use leaf litter during the winter season. By turning crops under, ASAP, after the harvest, it will lessen the chances of them getting an abode during winter. At the same time, it kills the late-developing little ones that are already stashed in there.
4. Squash Bugs
These types of bugs are enormous. They can grow to 5.8 inches in length and 1.3 inches in width. Their eggs have yellowish to bronze color. They go through 5 stages, called instars, before they become full-blown adults. Their colors start from light green to dark gray to brownish gray. Their legs and antennae remain black.
Squash bugs feasts on melons, gourds, squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers. They use their mouth to suck the sap out of the plant’s leaves resulting in the disruption of water and nutrients circulation. When the feeding becomes out of control, it can weaken the plant to the point that it’ll soon die. Gardeners should be more precautious on young plants, especially those that are in flower for they’re more fragile and prone to the attack.
Smash these bad bugs before they start smashing pumpkins by:
- Using organic spray and soaps.
- Setting out newspapers or boards out in the garden and leave it overnight. These bugs gather on those, and you can quickly dispose of them in soapy water early in the morning.
- You can drown in a pail of soapy water soon as you knock them off the plant. You need to be quicker than them. They’ll hurriedly trot to find a hiding place at any chance they get.
- If you’re not squirmy, you can simply pick them off the plant and squish them with your fingers.
- Crush their eggs or seal them before putting in the trash. Their eggs are usually laid on the undersides of leaves. You’ll notice them in clusters between the veins of the leaf.
If you notice a fuzzy and white kind of mess secreted to the plant’s stems and leaf nodes, those are the work of a mealybug. These soft-bodied pests are only a tenth of an inch in length, white almost close to resembling a white cotton ball but tinier. Have fringes around their bodies and can have twin tails depending on the species. Those that you see scurrying on the plant are mostly females. The males are rarely visible, given that they have wings and have the size of a gnat.
The reasons why mealybugs are attracted to the garden are over-fertilizing and over-watering. Visible signs of mealybug damage to the plant are anemic-looking appearance, delicate foliage, and presence of ants because of the honeydew. Honeydew is the sticky wax substance excreted by mealybugs when eating. Their excretion can later develop a sooty mold fungus that keeps the plant from photosynthesizing.
They particularly like to feast on tender new growth, may it be fruits, vegetables, or flower buds. That’s how it can severely damage your plants inside out.
Prevent these mealybugs make a happy meal out of your garden by:
- Daubing the mealybugs with isopropyl alcohol.
- You can buy horticultural oils or insecticidal soap.
- When treating the plant from mealybugs attack, it’s best to quarantine it to avoid the spread. If infestation continues, you’ll need to destroy the plant.
- Treatment should also include foliar sprays and soil drench. These pests can even live in the soil on the roots.
- Before bringing your plants inside for winter, make sure no mealybugs are also onboard.
6. Chinch Bug
Adult chinch bug can grow to 1.5 to 1.8 inches long. Their color is black, but their wings have white markings. They like to bask in the sun, thus, they’re rarely seen shaded areas.
They use their piercing part of their mouth to suck the sap out of the grass. You’ll notice the damaged area of the grass to be discolored or with dead patches. This sight is common in sidewalks, foundation, curbs, and driveways due to the heat emitted in these areas.
Avoid an increase in lawn maintenance cost by:
- Checking if chinch bug is present in the uneven patches of your lawn. Once confirmed, check for insecticides in your trusted garden center that’s suitable for your grass type. Most of these bugs are resistant to different chemical controls, so it’s best to check with your local extension service.
7. Yellow Jackets
They belong to the wasp family and are known for being aggressive with stings that cause lingering pain. In some cases, their stings can be fatal. They grow in black and yellow color with a size of a honeybee that’s why they often are mistaken for bees. They’re attracted to plants that are high in sugar and carbohydrates like tree sap, fruit, and flower nectars. Their larvae are fed on proteins.
These bad boys of the insect world won’t leave your garden without a fight. To eliminate them:
- Kill their nest. However, doing so requires extreme care. Better yet, call professionals to do the job for you.
8. Four-Lined Plant Bug
These shy crawlers can create a 1.16 inches square dead patches on the leaves of the plant they attack. Their favorite being is perennials. Often, the plant can outgrow the cosmetic damage. However, with a severe infestation, it can result in deformed, browned, and dying leaves.
You can avenge your plants in twofold by:
- Midsummer. Cut the part of the plants that have been attacked. This way, any eggs laid inside the stem will be removed. This method may delay the flowering of your perennials, but pruning can guarantee bug-free growth and abundance in flowers.
- Fall. Remove all leaf litter and stems from the bed. Don’t add them in your compost pile for their might be eggs laid in them. Seal them instead and trash them.
9. Beetle Grub
Grubs are the predecessor to different types of beetles. One of the most destructive kinds in their species is the Japanese beetle grub. Their voracious feeding can cause dead patches.
Get rid of these critters by:
- The help of microscopic worms called parasitic nematodes. These little guys can help attack grubs.
- Or if you have a pair of lawn aerating sandals, you can use them to spike on brown lawn areas.
10. Japanese Beetle
These eating machines love to binge the soft tissue of petals such as roses, purple coneflower, or butterfly bush. Your garden will be a perfect buffet reception for these bugs. They can destroy those beautiful blooms and turn them into a rotting mess.
Handle these Japanese beetles by:
- Knock them into soapy water.
- Check with your local extension office to determine the approximate time you should cut back with your watering. These beetles will lay their eggs in moist lawns.
- Avoid hanging traps, and it can trigger more beetles in your garden.
11. Rose Slug
This beautiful name is what the larvae of the rose sawfly is called. They chew on leaf undersides, between veins. They nibble on leaf tissue until the leaf just looks like a mere skeleton. You can spot the damage they made when leaves become speckled and start having holes in them.
Break free from rose slug and make sure it never comes back by:
- Blasting the plants off with spray water.
- Or, use spray made of soil bacteria called bioinsecticide.
Understanding the biodiversity of your landscape is the trick to help make pest control possible. Pest management is a combined method of prevention and elimination. This will ensure you’re not sending your friendly little helpers away while preventing the antagonists from reproducing. After all, the enemies of the pests in your garden are your plants’ friends.