A good thing for every gardener to remember is that all bugs aren’t bad. Contrary to popular belief, most bugs are harmless, and when it comes to gardens, many bugs are beneficial, and even necessary! Another thing to remember is that there are always bugs in a garden, they are a part of nature’s handiwork. The trick is to be able to identify which insects are good and which insects are bad, however. The best thing you can do for your garden is to get to know it and it’s inhabitants well, that way you’ll be able to recognize what you’re looking at before you kill it or drive it away. Once you’ve identified the real enemies to your garden, you can deal with them in a way that benefits the health and well-being of your plants – and the people around them.
Your first step is to spend some time simply observing your plants. Check the soil around the base of the plants and underneath leaves for signs of bugs or damage from pests; sometimes you won’t see the actual bug, you can only identify it by what kind of damage it causes. It’s a good idea to get a journal and write down your observations. Be sure to include dates so you can learn when to expect certain bugs in your garden. Get a good bug identification book, one with large colored pictures, so you can figure out whether the bugs you’re looking at are pests or beneficial. Alternately, you can snap a photo with your phone, and then look it up on one of the thousands of garden insect pest websites online. Ladybugs, lacewings, and praying mantis’ are a few examples of good bugs. Aphids, earwigs, and mealy bugs are a few examples of bad bugs.
Once you’ve identified your insect issues, you can begin to put together an arsenal of natural solutions to deal with them; you and your family will be able to enjoy your garden without the fear of dealing with toxic chemicals or worrying about the damage you’re doing to the earth.