Like it or not, there will always be bugs and insects in the garden. Some are good for the garden and some are not. Nobody likes the bad bugs that eat our plants, but if we eliminate them completely we lose the good bugs too.
Without bugs there would be no frogs, no lizards, no birds and the garden would become a wasteland. Beneficial bugs help to pollinate plants and vegetables, and they help to recycle the leaf litter and vegetation into compost. They are a food source for birds and reptiles, which in turn are a food source for mammals.
Many of the good bugs eat the detrimental bugs, controlling their numbers.
Look in the garden for the good guys. Ladybirds love to eat aphids, they think that scale insects are delicious and they feast on mites. The female ladybird will lay her eggs in a nest of aphids – the perfect lunch for the tiny ladybirds as they hatch.
Try to find a praying mantis. They are often hard to see as they can camouflage themselves into their surroundings. They sway with the wind as they wait to catch mosquitoes and flies. They are always hungry and looking for food and they will eat caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers, thrips or any other insect they can find. If nothing else is around, the females will even eat their mates. Romantic!
Scary-looking spiders help to catch flies and other insects in their web. Huntsmen and wolf spiders don’t make webs, rather, they hide in nooks and crannies waiting for their prey.
Hover flies lay their eggs on plants and as they hatch the grubs will feed on aphids and mites. You'll find these small yellow and black striped flying insects hovering among the new growth on roses, hibiscus and in the vegie patch searching for aphids.
The huge slimy tiger slug is a good guy too. This carnivore eats the small slugs and snails that do so much damage. Tiger slugs live under stones and logs.
No garden will thrive without bees. They feed on the pollen of flowers. Without them there would be no pollination and no seed for future crops.
Mealy bugs are unwanted but are usually controlled by ants. Ants are the workers in the garden, they clean up and recycle all the time. You can find mealy bugs on the back of leaves and down the stems of plants that don’t get enough night-time air or overhead moisture. Ants will find their prey and with the help of other ants they will carry the food back to their nest. If you find a trail of ants, sit quietly and watch them. You will be amazed at their hard work and team effort to complete their tasks.
The damaging bugs in the garden include fruit fly, citrus stink bugs (bronze orange bug), caterpillars, aphids and mites, but without the bad bugs the beneficial bugs would starve. If you prefer not to use chemicals, you can try to leave things alone. An ecosystem will develop and soon the numbers will level out. If an infestation occurs, blast the insects from the plants with a jet of water, and dispose of them once they are on the ground. Click here for more organic pest control tips.