Out With the Bad, in With the Good: The Top 5 Bugs to Defend Your Yard
Spring is in full swing and summer is near, which means that all your friendly little neighborhood bugs and insects are coming out into the world to enjoy the warm weather. This can be very daunting as you try different ways to eliminate them. But before you extinguish as many as possible, make sure that you are leaving the “good” bugs alive and well in your garden, yard and bushes. There are quite a few of these positive-impacting bugs that can actually help you out by eating their harmful peers and positively affecting your garden’s ecosystem.
The ladybug, otherwise known as the lady beetle, is easily mistaken for other types of beetles, especially if it is black. Look for the smooth and round ones, as well as the longer, hairy-looking version, which is ladybug larvae. Ladybugs can be reddish with black spots, or black with orange-red spots. These little guys eat all of the garden monsters that munch on your plants. From aphids to mites, they keep your plants healthy by getting rid of the miniature pests that are difficult to see with the naked eye. Attract ladybugs with lots of flowers and closely-growing plants.
When you lift up a small rock in your garden, you may find a ground beetle underneath. While typically thought of as pests, especially in your home, they are wonderful to have protecting your garden soil. Ground beetles are mostly black and are what you just call a “beetle.” Some ground beetles, however, can be brown or have a metallic color to them. They all live in the ground where it’s dark and cool. These guys eat slugs, maggots, cutworms, earworms, potato beetles and just about any other bugs that live in the dirt. Keep them around by having bushes and mulchy gardens.
Daddy longlegs, also known as harvestmen, are often overlooked when it comes to their benefits. They consume organic waste from plants, animals and bugs, keeping your garden clean. Some species eat a wide variety of small garden insects, such as aphids and spiders, that can be poisonous to humans. While daddy longlegs are said to be poisonous, they don’t actually pose a threat to humans. They live in very moist areas that tend to have lots of trees and greenery.
The assassin bug is just what his name implies--a sneaky insect eliminator. They consume flies, mosquitoes, caterpillars and more. The assassin bug is only about ¼ inch long and can be identified by it’s tiny, v-shaped head, which appears to be way too small for it’s body. They also have a “beak” which they use to capture their prey and then inject them with venom. They can bite humans, so be careful when handling them. There are thousands of species of assassin bugs and they tend to be grey, black, reddish, or brown, and can even have spots.
The Preying Mantis
The preying mantis does just what his name implies--preys on other bugs. He is skinny, green and looks like a walking green stick or leaf. This allows him to be camouflaged by leaves and plants in his environment. The preying mantis eats moths, flies, crickets and other bugs that tend to be pesky. He will also eat other good bugs in your garden, too, so be careful not to have too many of them around. The mantis lives in warmer, more tropical climates.
Note: To keep the good bugs coming around, do not use bug sprays and chemicals on your garden. Keep it organic.