praying mantise
praying mantise

My Garden is Bugging Me: Bugs to Welcome into Gardens

Insects repulse individuals around the world.  They infest homes and outdoor areas and can cause thousands of dollars in damage.  Not only can they destroy property, but certain bugs can also ruin the prize-winning plants in one’s garden.  These infestations can discourage new gardeners and cause big problems for experienced ones.  Despite these facts, plants can also benefit from the presence of various insects.


Ladybugs

Lady beetles bugs
Lady beetles bugs

are often admired and are easily identified by their red-orange coloring with assorted black spots.  There are thousands of species of ladybugs, and they all have small variations in their patterns.  To a gardener, these small creatures prove to be quite helpful!  They rid numerous plants of harmful pests like aphids.  Aphids are small green bugs that will attack and feed on almost every part of a plant.  Usually, they are highly concentrated under leaves.  In addition to aphids, ladybugs will also snack on mealy bugs and spider mites.  All of these invaders can cause fatal damage to plants, but ladybugs help control the population.  They keep plants healthy and add vibrant color to any garden.


Praying mantises

Praying mantis
Praying mantis

Praying mantises are also unique, helpful bugs.  Their leaf-like bodies and their forelegs, which are often in a praying position, help individuals to identify them easily.  These religious bugs are similar to ladybugs in regard to their roles in gardens.  They are friendly to people, but they will not allow small creatures to harm plants. Praying mantises are primarily carnivores.  They feed on various feared bugs like wasps, and they have also been reported to eat small animals, including frogs, lizards, and tiny birds.  Praying mantises will definitely help keep populations of pests under control, and they are fun to watch!  Children are easily kept occupied by watching them because they are fascinating creatures with unique characteristics.


Bumblebees

Bumblebees
Bumblebees

Bumblebees are misunderstood members of the bug family.  They are commonly mistaken for wasps and are feared by many people.  These bees have black and yellow stripes, and they can sting living beings.  If a colony of bumblebees is visible, it is wise to keep a safe distance from them to prevent injury.  If these insects feel threatened, they will sting to protect themselves.  While they may sting people, bumblebees are an important asset to a garden with flowers or crops.  This species of bee pollinates plants.  Pollination is essential for plants to continue producing and reproducing.  During this process, a pollinator like a bumblebee will accumulate pollen from the male plant and deliver it to the female plant.  This reproduction process creates seeds so that the plant population can increase.  These seeds can be in various forms, such as sunflower seeds or fruit.  The bumblebee’s role in pollination is extremely important to a human’s diet because we eat what these insects help produce.  Without them, nature’s balance will become unbalanced, and freshly grown food will be nonexistent in any farm, garden, or grocery store.

Garden bug killers are other bugs
Garden bug killers are other bugs

Bugs like these are extremely helpful to gardeners because they keep plants healthy.  The ladybugs and praying mantises are like a natural pesticide.  They do not contaminate surrounding plants and crops like Cutter does, and they are bee friendly.  The bee population has decreased dramatically within the past few years because of the increase of pesticide use.  Although people use pesticides to rid their homes of bugs like mosquitoes, they are also harming helpful ones like the bees.  Without bees to pollinate the flora in the world, fields would be flower-less and farms would be crop-less.  Ladybugs and praying mantises are healthy and natural alternatives for pest control, for the environment and for plants.

The bugs and plants share a special relationship with each other.  While plants provide shelter for the bugs, the bugs protect the plants and keep them healthy.  This win-win situation is often referred to as a symbiotic relationship called mutualism.  If a mutualism relationship is compromised, it could be detrimental to both individuals.  It is important to have this balance in every garden.  The invading bugs also have a symbiotic relationship with plants.  This one is referred to as parasitism.  In this relationship, the harmful bugs benefit from the shelter of plants, but they also hurt the plants that they reside in. Parasitism is a relationship that every live being should avoid.

Ladybugs, praying mantises, and bumblebees can be purchased at various online stores.  They are extremely helpful resources in the garden and natural problem solvers.  If one is planning to introduce these creatures to his/her garden, it is important to do more research on the matter.  Placing them in a garden is easy, but keeping them there is a challenge.  An issue that gardeners usually face is the bugs that they purchased leave because their food source is dwindling.  For example, if ladybugs are introduced to a garden, they will feed on the aphid population.  Once this population is almost extinct, ladybugs will seek food elsewhere.  A solution to this could be to purchase fewer ladybugs, but the aphid population will linger.  The climate of the location that the bugs will be sent to may also have an impact.  If the insect lives in a tropical climate, they may die off in a cold one.  Make sure to gain as much knowledge as possible on the habitat and diet preferences on the bug you are interested in.  If a proper environment is not provided, the bugs will most likely seek another one.

Maintaining a garden takes a lot of hard work and dedication.  Gardeners must remove weeds and dead leaves to promote growth.  Water, sunlight, and fertilizer are also imperative to keeping a successful garden.  This is especially difficult because different plants require different amounts of these items.  While regulating all of these necessities, gardeners have to keep a keen eye out for specific bugs that can cause devastating problems in a garden.  Insects like ladybugs, praying mantises, and bumblebees can help stop and prevent further issues by diminishing the source of the problem. These insects are amazing assets for every garden.


Work Cited
“How to Manage Pests.” UC IPM Online. Web. 27 July 2017.
“Ladybug.” Kids’ Games, Animals, Photos, Stories, and More, 01 Mar. 2014. Web. 27 July 2017.
“Ladybug Benefits | All About Lady Bugs.” Safer® Brand. Web. 27 July 2017.
“Natural Pest Control with Praying Mantis.” Praying Mantis. Web. 27 July 2017.
“Praying Mantis Bug Information.” Insect Identification – Identifying Bugs of North America, 19 June 2017. Web. 27 July 2017.
“What is Pollination.” What is Pollination? USDA Web. 27 July 2017.