The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
I never thought the day would come when I would discuss the attributes of good bugs versus bad bugs. But the time has finally arrived to let it be known that in the end, the good bugs usually win - I hope!
For the most part, if you become familiar with bugs, you can usually control or counteract their plant and lawn attacks by using proper methods - and without any fungicides, herbicides or -pesticides.
Bugs come in all sizes and shapes. Some are more mysterious than others, but the end result is usually the same - they either attack our landscape, or we invite them as assistants to protect the landscape.
Crab spiders lie in wait on flower heads and dine on several insects, including good ones, where, on the other hand, mealybug destroyers are a favorite of ants, so it is preferable to keep them around.
At the top of my list is the all-time -popular ladybug, introduced where aphids are on the attack. A small trick is to -dampen plants prior to releasing the bugs.
I discovered ground beetles recently and learned that they are night hunters that munch on cutworms, gypsy moth -larvae, snails, slugs and root maggots. This discovery moved from my -intellectual knowledge to my upset -stomach when I began to imagine such a meal for the beetles.
On the other hand, once I dissolved a stomach acid reducer, I realized that ground beetles actually are a great asset to the landscape, and that I really need to find out where they collectively reside prior to the perfect storm.
Because my potatoes and cabbage become buffets for loopers and grubs, I am on the lookout for soldier bugs, the ones that eat leaf beetle grubs, potato -beetles and cabbage loopers. These bugs would greatly enhance the health of my potatoes and cabbage, especially during the drought season.
An interesting fact about Braconid wasps is that they lay their eggs on tomato hornworms, armyworms, cabbageworms, gypsy moths and other insect pupae and adults. This is as a symbiotic relationship that works for the wasps, but not the worms.
One of my favorite bugs and one that I actually respect for their beauty and dependence are green lacewings. They dine on aphids, mealybugs and scale insect nymphs.
I noticed this year that the -dragonflies were quite active and, when approached, even looked me straight in the eye as though attempting to speak, assuring me that they were on the job relieving the area of flies and mosquitoes. I nodded knowingly and thanked them for lessening the abundance of bites that seem to attract themselves to my epidermal limbs when exposed.
The greatest and most royal insect of the kingdom is the praying -mantis, which eats just about anything, including other beneficials. But when all is said and done, I remind myself that the balance of nature exists for a reason and that there is no winner or loser, only those bugs who manage to survive in our landscape.
And whatever their job, the push is to excel in their professional -manner.
Plant fall vegetables, including onions, radishes and turnips.
Deadhead roses and clean up debris from under the rose beds.
Plant perennials and add a -slow-release fertilizer, rich in phosphorous and potassium.
Plant a cover crop of rye or clover to add nitrogen to the soil and turn into compost when spring arrives.
Cut back perennial herbs.
Dig up cool season weeds -including white clover, dandelion, plantain and chickweed. Wild onion and wild -garlic are also troublesome.
Watch for a bevy of worms, -including webworms, armyworms, and spider mites.
Be on the lookout for fire ants.
Take good care of the birds and the fish during the cold season by -feeding, protecting and keeping areas clean.
Contact Anita Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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