The Good Pests, the Bad Pests, and Your Garden

Despite gardening’s reputation as a peaceful, even therapeutic hobby, the reality there is a war raging in your yard at any given time. There are countless pests looking to snack away on your vegetation until there’s nothing left but mulch, and there are also many predators looking to take a bite out of those pests before they are able to grow into an infestation.

And then there’s you in the middle, doing your best to create a beautiful and healthy garden.

Thankfully, when it comes to gardening and pest control, the best offense is often a good defense. Take the time to get to know the beneficial creatures around your property, and embrace these predators as they do their best to keep invasive pests from becoming a bigger problem.

The Bad

A pest infestation is a constant worry when trying to keep a healthy garden. While a few problematic bugs here and there are not going to be the end of your vegetation, sharp increases in their population can become an issue if they are not dealt with quickly.

Keep an eye out for increasing numbers of the below pests. If you do notice and uptick in their population, it is best to contact a professional exterminator immediately. The sooner they can come out to your property, the more likely they will be able to save your garden.

  • Stink Bugs – An incredibly common problem for Virginia gardens, stink bugs will feed on any of the produce in your garden quite quickly. If you have any vegetables, fruit, or herbs, stink bugs will make quick work of them. They are not known for multiplying into large infestations often, but if their numbers do begin to rise it is best to contact your exterminator promptly.
  • Caterpillars – Caterpillars are common pest that have a tendency to chew holes through the leaves of your plants. This will damage their photosynthesis and make it harder are for them to feed themselves.
  • Beetles – Beetles are another potential pest that will devour your plants down to their roots. Unlike other bad bugs though, beetles can be incredibly destructive very quickly. If you notice this pest in your garden, it needs be dealt with immediately regardless of their population
  • Earwigs – Another pest that is commonly harmless in small numbers, the true danger of Earwigs is not in what they will do to your garden, but what they will do to your actual home if they are able to make their way inside. Keeping Earwigs out of your garden is an important part of protecting your property in the long run.
  • Rabbits – Rabbits won’t just ruin the leaves of your plants; they will chew them straight down to the stem if given a chance. If you are worried about a rabbit infestation, it’s good to keep an eye out early in the morning, or during dusk. These are the most active hours for rabbits.

The Good

These are the pollinators and predators, the wide variety of critters that want nothing more than to live in harmony with your garden while feasting on the numerous pests that make up the above list of bad bugs.

It’s important that you don’t artificially bring these animals into your environment. Purchasing adults varieties of these creatures can often inadvertently create an invasive species if it is not native to your area. It is best to create conditions that promote natural predators and other beneficial bugs to call your garden home. A wide variety of native plants is a fantastic way to get this started.

  • Dragonfly – When it comes to hunting mosquitoes, gnats, or other flying pests there are few hunters better than the dragonfly. Their fantastic vision and incredible speed will make them a great addition to your garden during mosquito season.
  • Ladybugs – Ladybugs are famous for their predatory skills when it comes to hunting down potential pests. Mites, aphids, and other small insects won’t stand a chance against ladybugs or their starving larvae.
  • Green Lacewings – Green Lacewings are beautiful bugs that, much like the ladybug, have hungry larvae sure to make quick work of any aphid or caterpillar infestations you’ve become worried about recently.
  • Honeybee – Beehives themselves can present a danger if they are located too close to your actual property. But the presence of honeybees in your garden is a fantastic boon. These bees will spread out seeds and pollenate your plants for you. This will help keep your vegetation healthy and create natural growth for your garden.
  • Garter Snake – There are many dangerous kinds of snakes that need to be handled carefully and reported if they are ever found in your garden. That does not include the garter snake, which is a fantastic addition to any garden with a rodent, snail, or slug problem. Garter snakes will feast on many different kinds of pests, and tend to be more scared of humans than we are of them. They can’t thrash and bite if they are agitated, so it is best practice to give them a fair bit of space if you see them slithering around.

An important fact about most of good bugs is that they are often more effective as larvae than they are in their adult forms. Larvae need to eat a lot more food so that they can grow up into the strong predators they will become. Because of this, native species are far more advantageous to garden health and security.

As for the bad bugs, these sorts of pests are thankfully quite recognizable if you’ve done a bit of research. While there are common household cures for many of the above infestations, we still suggest calling your local exterminator before attempting anything yourself. They are going to know which pesticides can be used in your area legally, and also which methods will eliminate your infestation without harming your favorable garden predators.