Good and Bad Bugs in the Garden


What are beneficial insects?
 

Beneficial insects are the good bugs. They prey on garden pests keeping insect populations in check. Some of the most common beneficial insects are Aphid Predators, Lacewings, Ladybugs, Pirate Mites, Praying Mantis, Predatory Mites, Trichogramma and even the Whitefly Parasite.



Check out our selection of beneficial predator insects.

Check out our selection of other insect control products.


Destructive Insects & Mites:

Some of the most common bad bugs you don't want to find in your garden include Aphids, Bagworms, Earwigs, Fungus Gnats, MealybugsSpider Mites, Thrips, White Flies and Grubs.




The 5 Most Common Crop-destroying Bugs

Aphids 

Aphids, also known as plant lice, are small sap-sucking insects. Aphids are among the most destructive insect pests on cultivated plants in temperate regions. Plants exhibiting aphid damage can have a variety of symptoms, such as decreased growth rates, mottled leaves, yellowing, stunted growth, curled leaves, browning, wilting, low yields and death. There are various insecticides that can be used to control aphids. There are many plant extracts and plant products that are eco-friendly and control aphids as effectively as chemical insecticides. 

We recommend using sticky traps to catch aphids. Various insecticides and insect killing soaps can be applied to your plants to rid them of these obnoxious pests. Examples of these products are Azasol and SNS 203.


Fungus Gnats 


Fungus gnats can be extremely detrimental to seedlings and mature plants within a garden. A form of short-lived fly, the small, dark fungus gnats feed especially on the roots of plants, which can have disastrous effects. The appearance of fungus gnats can be an indication that you are over watering your plants, as having extremely moist soil for prolonged amounts of time or having fungus developing in saturated topsoil is often what attracts the fungus gnats.

The best way to avoid fungus gnats is to ensure that you are spacing out your waterings in order to ensure that the soil has enough time to dry out sufficiently so as not to develop a fungus or attract gnats. Drenching your soil with Azasol or neem oil has occasionally been used as a preventative measure against fungus gnats as well. Another method is the placement of sterilized sand or Gnat Nix on top of the soil around your plants. The sand will prevent the gnats from returning to your soil while also trapping any remaining fungus gnat larvae.

We recommend using sticky traps to catch fungus gnats and as a preventative, monitoring measure at the base of your plants. Sprays for your plants such as goGnats can be applied as a poison-free alternative to using popular pesticides if you find fungus gnats in your soil. Insect growth disruptors and antifeedants such as AzasolAzamax and Azatrol also assist greatly in eliminating your fungus gnat problems.


Mealybugs 

Unarmored scale insects found in warm and moist climates which feed on plant juices and can carry diseases from plant to plant, mealybugs can be found in all parts of the world and are quite troublesome for novice and expert gardeners alike. They normally feed on plant sap in roots or other crevices and attach themselves to the plant while they excrete a wax layer which protects them while they feed.

Although small infestations of mealybugs might not cause significant damage to your plants, in larger amounts a mealybug infestation can lead to leaf droop and other plant issues.

There are various ways to combat mealybugs. Neem oil is an excellent organic option. Insect killing soaps are also an excellent solution. Additionally Cryptolaemus Montrouzieri Predatory Beetles, a predatory insect which feed upon mealybugs as well as aphids, can be introduced to your garden in order to fight a mealybug infestation.


Spider Mites 

Known to feed on several hundred species of plants, spider mites generally live on the undersides of leaves of plants, where they may spin protective silk webs. They cause damage by puncturing the plant cells to feed. Spider mites are less than 1 millimeter (0.04 in) in size and vary in color. They lay small, spherical, initially transparent eggs and many species spin silk webbing to help protect the colony from predators; they get the "spider" part of their common name from this webbing. Hot, dry conditions are often associated with population build-up of spider mites. The two-spotted spider mite can hatch in as little as 3 days, and become sexually mature in as little as 5 days. One female can lay up to 20 eggs per day and can live for 2 to 4 weeks, laying hundreds of eggs. A single mature female can spawn a population of a million mites in a month or less. In other words, as soon as you see them, you'd better do something or you'll soon be facing total crop destruction.


Sprays like Eco-Mite, SNS 217Doktor Doom Spider Mite Knockout and Mighty Bomb can be used to deal with the infestation. Neem oil, Lady Bugs or Predatory Mites are another alternative in combating this horrible pest.


Whiteflies 

While whiteflies alone will feed off and damage your plants, their biggest detriment to your crop is the diseases they could potentially transmit. The ability of the whitefly to carry and spread disease is the widest impact they have had on global food production. In the tropics and subtropics, whiteflies have become one of the most serious crop protection problems. Whitefly adults are 1–2 mm in length, with yellowish bodies and four wings held near parallel to the leaf surface. All life-stages apart from eggs and "pupae" cause crop damage through direct feeding, inserting their stylet into leaf veins and extracting nourishment from the phloem sap. As a by-product of feeding, honeydew is excreted and that alone can be a second, major source of damage.


We recommend using sticky traps to catch whiteflies and as a preventative, monitoring measure at the base of your plants.

Whiteflies are best dealt with using aggressive preventative measures, or through natural biological means due to their ability to quickly gain resistance to chemical pesticides. Delphastus Pusillus Ladybird Beetles and Encarsia Formosa are two excellent natural predators and controllers of whitefly infestations. If the infestation is too heavy then a spray like End All Insect Killer can be used in combination with Hot Shot No Pest Strips to control outbreaks of these nasty pests.



Want to learn more? Check out the other topics in the GYOstuff Learning Center.
The GYOstuff email newsletter and preferred grower rewards program. Sign up today with just your name & email address and receive $5 off of your next order of $50 or more.

Name: *
Email: *