Monday, June 9, 2014

Not All Bugs Are Bad

 Some gardeners do not want to see bugs of any kind on their plants. Yet this condition does not always spell disaster.  Consider the following situations:

1. Some bugs found on plants may not be feeding or causing damage to the plant. They are merely there for other reasons.

2. Not only might they be benign, they may be a good guy, a parasite or predator looking for pests to consume. Two well-known good bugs are preying mantis and lady bird beetles.

3. The insects, of course, may be a pest, but one that will not cause damage. Occasionally bugs will stop and feed on plants, but no real harm is brought to bear.

4. On the other hand, some bugs may be inflicting damage, but it is only cosmetic. This means that the leaves or fruit may be scared or misshapen but there is no real loss of yield. Cosmetic damage should be tolerated. This type of damage on fruit does not affect the internal quality.

5. The last possibility is an infestation of an insect pest which will cause yields to be significantly lowered. In this case, you will have to decide whether to wait a  while and see if biological control will work, if parasite/predators can control the population, or to spray. If spraying is the choice, consider first a biorational pesticide, such as soap, oil, Bt or sulfur. These are less injurious to the environment including the predator/ parasite populations.