The other evening I came upon 3 June Bugs. This prompted me to write about a few of the 1000′s of different bugs a gardener can come across in the yard and gardens.
If you have never seen a June Bug (Beetle) you’d be quite surprised. They are a very large beetle; the ones I saw were about the size of a loony and can get even larger. These beetles were coming from our grassed area and onto our gravel driveway. I became quite curious as to what they were doing and were these beetles doing good things to our yard or bad? After some research on these large beetles I discovered they not the type of bug you want in your yard. The larval stage (white grub) of the June Beetle will feed on grass, grass roots, farm crops and garden crops. Feeding on the grass will kill the turf and allow weeds to grow in the dead patches. The adult beetle will also feed on flowers. To control these beetles naturally, planting geraniums in your garden will help repel white grubs. A well-watered, fertilized, aerated lawn will provide a resistance to the grubs. The adults like to lay the eggs in thin grass so a thick, healthy lawn with good root growth will discourage the adults. Raking the lawn will help to expose the grubs so their natural predators such as crows, magpies and other birds will find them (unfortunately skunks and moles are also a natural predator of the white grub). Another “natural” product is parasitic nematode which can be purchased from garden centers. For a chemical cure a pesticide labeled for white grubs can be affective also.
Of course not all bugs are bad. As most gardeners know, Earthworms are one of the best, hardworking helpers one can have. They tunnel through the soil which helps with the air and water circulation for your plants roots. As they tunnel through they leave their droppings – called castings, atop the ground and are rich in nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, important nutrients for a healthy, prospering yard and or garden. Earthworms can be purchased if you feel that you are lacking them.
Another beneficial insect is the Dragonfly. They are one of the best fliers of the insect world and will feed on many insects such as gnats and mosquitoes. They are an amazing insect to watch as they “buzz” through the air capturing flying insects. They will eat many times their weight in mosquitoes every day. They also eat the larvae of the mosquito. They are found around water as this is where the lifecycle of the dragonfly starts but once mature will travel where ever their food is. So before you go to try and kill these insects, think about the benefits of them in your yard and how the mosquito population is affected.
Mosquitoes are one of the most annoying insects we encounter through the spring and summer seasons. Only the females will bite. To help control the mosquito population, eliminate standing water in your yard, they can breed even in the smallest amount of water. If you have a rain barrel, ornamental pond or water for pets, there are steps one can take to discourage mosquito habitats. A rain barrel can have a tight lid and a screen placed on the inflow, this helps with only water passing into the rain barrel (no leaves, twigs, etc.) thus making it less like pond water and discouraging mosquito activity. An ornamental pond can have an aeration pump installed which would keep the water moving or stock the pond with fish, as the fish would eat the larvae of the mosquito. Pet water should be emptied and filled regularly to prevent mosquito larvae and fungus to build in the bowl. Another solution is a garlic spray for your lawn or there are foggers available as well as bug zappers and citronella candles. These are just temporary solutions and will need to be reapplied throughout the season.
Pollinators are very valuable insects. Common examples are honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, moths and wasps. Without these insects our flowers and fruit trees would not produce the seeds to continue producing. To keep these insects returning to your yard try to minimize your spraying of insecticides and only spray in the evenings after bees return to their nest. Planting pollen and nectar flowers will have them returning continually.
Ladybugs (Lady Beetle/Ladybird), both adult and larvae feed on aphids and soft bodied pests, as well as on insect eggs. Adults can consume 330 to 400 aphids in a month and the larvae can consume 200 to 300 aphids during their development. If you have many aphids in your garden you may want to purchase a bag of ladybugs to help control those aphids. To encourage the ladybugs to stay in your yard/garden, water the garden thoroughly and wait for evening to release the beetles. Adequate moisture and an ample supply of aphids may entice them to make a home in your garden.
Aphids will cluster on many of our favorite garden plants and houseplants. Both adult and nymphs suck plant sap from most growing plants, flowers, vegetable, fruits shade trees and conifers. Aphids can spread plant viruses as they feed. As they feed, they secrete a sweet honeydew onto the leaves below, which supports growth of sooty mold. Their feeding often causes distortion of leaves, flowers and buds, severely infested leaves and flowers may drop off and buds may not open. Giving your plants a hard spray with the hose nozzle can help remove aphids from your plants and having natural predators (Ladybugs, Lacewings or wasps) will be very beneficial in helping to control these small distractive pests.
Happy Bug Hunting