Garden Insects: Identifying the Bad Bugs
Scientists estimate that 97% of the world’s insects are either beneficial or harmless. Does is seem as though your garden attracts only the remaining 3%, the ones that are destructive? Actually, there are lots of bugs in your yard, both “good” and “bad”. And there is a constant battle going on to maintain a balance between these two groups. Conventional wisdom holds that having a few bad bugs around is okay; they provide food for both the beneficial insects and for other welcome visitors like songbirds.
Here are the three types of troublesome bugs typically found in gardens.
Soil Insects: These pests feed on the seed in the ground or on tender young vegetation. These critters also attack larger, established root crops such as potatoes and carrots. Examples of soil insects include cutworms, white grubs, mole crickets and some types of nematodes.
Sucking Insects: These insects have mouths designed to pierce the skin and suck sap from plants. Sometimes holes made by these bugs are so small that they can only be seen with a magnifying glass. While the holes tend to be small, sucking insects often invade in huge numbers. Plants victimized by these bad bugs become yellowed, wilted, stunted or deformed. Aphids, leafhoppers, stinkbugs, spider mites and squash bugs are examples of sucking insects commonly found in gardens.
Chewing Insects: This group causes the greatest amount of damage to gardens and yards. They chew off all parts of the plant including leaves, fruits, vegetables and flowers. Chewing insects include Colorado potato beetles, tomato hornworm, cabbage loopers, webworms, leaf miners and various caterpillars.