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Garden Critters

Your garden is alive! It’s true! Your garden is a happy little ecosystem full of plants and critters. It’s constantly changing so keeping an eye on the bugs inhabiting it will give you much insight into how healthy it is. If you see an abundance of beneficial bugs like ladybugs, perhaps you have a major aphid problem. There are natural ways to keep balance as well as various insecticides should you wish.

Before we get into things, thank you to everyone who attended our webinar! We love hanging out with you and today was especially fun. We had Regina, from rainy Virginia, who tuned in to learn about bugs, and Donna, who is already an avid gardener! Today’s webinar was for everyone and every skill level. I learned a lot too!

If you missed today’s event, thank you for finding the blog.

If you would like to view the encore video, head over to our YouTube channel where it’s now available!

Colin’s PowerPoint: BUGS

Let’s dive into some of those garden critters Colin mentioned in today’s webinar:

Types of Bugs

  • Arthropods – centipedes, millipedes, etc
  • Gastropod – slugs, snails, etc
  • Arachnid – spider, scorpion, etc
  • Clitellata – earthworm, leeches, etc
  • Lepidoptera – butterflies, moths, caterpillars, etc

Common “Bad” Bugs

  • Aphids
    • Tiny sap-sucking bugs (Can be black, green, yellow, or “wooly”)
    • Feeds on plant sugars
    • Causes leaves to turn yellow, curl, or stunt growth.
    • Their waste attracts ants or wasps.
    • Ultimately weaken plants to make them susceptible to other issues.
    • To Combat:
  • Spider Mites
    • Type of arachnid that lives on the underside of leaves.
    • Feeds on chlorophyll
    • Causes white spots or stripes on the leaves.
    • Ultimately weaken plants to make them susceptible to other issues.
    • To Combat:
  • Slugs and Snails
    • Herbivore snacking on tender leaves leaving open wounds.
      • Especially love large leafy green veggies.
    • Prefer damp, shady locations and nighttime.
    • Can attract skunks and raccoons.
    • To Combat:
  • Ants
    • Surprisingly not bad for your garden.
      • May chomp on plant roots if they’re in the way of building tunnels, but rare.
    • Can help aerate the soil and help decompositions of organic material.
    • Will fight off other bugs because they’re territorial.
  • Scale Insects
    • Tenacious and equipped with a hard shell for resistance to predators.
    • Feeds on sap within woody branches like Cotoneaster.
      • Only active for a few weeks in early spring.
    • Causes branches to die off and overall weakness.
    • To Combat:
      • Apply a Dormant Spray Kit in the early spring
      • Prune dead branches and take them directly to the compost to avoid the spread of Scale.
  • Lily Beetle
    • Mistaken for the Ladybug as it appears as a red beetle that is tough to eliminate.
    • Causes physical damage to lilies
    • To Combat:
      • Pick them off by hand or create an insecticide program using Trounce to eliminate them over time.

Common “Good” Bugs

  • Ladybug (“Ladybird Beetle”)
    • A garden favourite as it naturally feasts on bad bugs like aphids, mites, scales, mealy bugs, and more.
      • Can consume 50+ aphids per day!
      • Late-stage larvae can consume 250-500 aphids per day!
    • Like to hibernate in winterized sections of your garden.
  • Spiders
    • Not a garden favourite, but they are so beneficial!
    • Feasts on many garden pests by trapping them in a web
      • Tip: Examine spider webs to understand what pests might be lurking in your garden!
  • Centipedes
    • Legs. Lots of legs that allow for quick movement.
    • Feasts on an array of garden critters but primarily soft-bodied ones.
  • Preying Mantis
    • Patient and cunning predators that feast on many different bugs.
    • Will not bit humans or pets, so they’re a family fav!
    • Available in store!
  • Dragonflies
    • Feasts on mosquitoes, midges, flies, wasps, etc.
  • Nematodes
    • Microscopic organisms existing in the soil.
    • Not harmful to humans, birds, or mammals.
    • Specific nematodes for specific issues(Thousands of types)
      • Birchleaf minor
      • fungus gnat
      • ants
    • Available in store!

A note about chemical sprays

  • Make sure to not harm the beneficial bugs
  • Use only when needed to avoid wasting money and harming beneficial bugs
  • Follow directions to avoid harming the plant
  • Make sure the spray is safe for the plant (Veggies)
    • Avoid the flower especially on fruits & veggies. Pollinators will not visit if it’s covered in chemicals.
  • Make sure you’re spraying at the right time.
    • Seasonal scale on cotoneaster requires application in early spring.
  • Wash hands and use PPE