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  • Writer's pictureJulia Watson

The Birds and the Bees, Good Bugs and Spiders Too

In my last post, Bugs in the Garden, I listed a few bad bugs* – aphids, thrip, etc. But there are also good bugs* and helpful creatures that can keep the enemies under control and keep your garden life in balance. Your goal doesn’t have to be total elimination of any one species if you have a diverse collection of life forms. Here are a few that I consider friends.

Birds I’m not a bird expert, but I think the little finches and other little birds that we see among our rows of cut flowers are helping us. Some come in a flock and light on the highest parts of the plants; I assume they’re eating small insects. Others hop along the ground, pecking and hopefully eating bug and slugs on the ground. Any bird experts reading this? Give some facts in the Comments section.

Bees I like seeing bees in my garden, but anyone who is growing flowers for cutting and arranging should know that bees aren’t entirely helpful. I would never try to get rid of them, but keep in mind that once bees have pollinated a flower, its vase life may decrease. Try to harvest before the flower is fully open, but save a few for the bees, too. Or keep a section of the garden with flowers you don’t need to cut.

Lady bugs I see lots of these and I’ve always been told they’re good for controlling aphids. Do you ever see their larvae? If so, treat them with respect and they’ll grow up to be little aphid-eating machines.

lady bug larva
Lady bug larva

Spiders Repeat after me, “Spiders are our friends.” I’ve never had a problem with spiders – they don’t scare me and I like to see them in my yard. They truly do eat other insects – I’ve watched them do it – so I consider them friends and never kill them.

Praying Mantis We have these, and I’ve always read that they’re good. I filmed one eating aphids, so I know it’s true, but they go about it so slowly that I wonder if they make much impact.

* Note that I’m saying “bugs” in the most generic sense, to mean small creatures including spiders (which are arachnids, not insects) and aphids (which are insects but not true bugs).

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