Friday, April 21, 2017

Not All Bugs Are Bad

There are some gardeners who 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; spiders are also good predators.
3. Some insects, of course are known pests, but cause little damage. 

4. On the other hand, some bugs do inflict damage, but it is only cosmetic. That is, 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 bio-rational pesticide, such as soap, oil, Bt or sulfur. These are less injurious to the environment including the predator/ parasite populations. 

Photos: University of California IPM Program