One of the great things about Florida is that you can garden throughout almost the entire year, depending on what you’re growing. While warmer temperatures and wet weather mean a return of flowers and spring crops, it also brings the return of an army of garden insects.
But while some bugs are clearly nuisances (we can take care of those for you), many garden bugs are beneficial to the health of your garden and landscaping. Others are just nice to look at. Veteran gardeners know the value of having plenty of good bugs on their side, but if you’re just trying out your green thumb or just maintaining your landscaping, here are the bugs you should be on the lookout for - good, bad and ugly.
Everyone likes ladybugs, right? Besides a friendly look, ladybugs are seriously efficient predators of other pests, especially flower-destroying aphids. If you have garden mites, mealybugs or any other small pests, ladybugs can drive them out of your garden.
Obviously, any good garden needs help to grow – and bumblebees help fertilize your plants and keep a healthy garden. Many people confuse bumblebees with honeybees, but bumblebees are typically much larger. Of course, you do want to use caution around any sort of bee since they do have a powerful sting.
Dragonflies might look scary, and can be a bit annoying, but they can be a gardener’s best friend. Dragonflies actively hunt mosquitoes, as well as other pests like aphids, so they’ll make your gardening hours much more enjoyable.
Spring growth is bound to attract aphids, tiny plant predators that can do serious damage if left unchecked. Aphids are tiny, pear-shaped insects that suck plant sap and cause plants to distort and drop their leaves. Washing plants regularly helps, but encouraging predators like ladybugs will be the most effective control.
Moths and Butterflies
Some butterflies can be beneficial to your garden – and they certainly look nice – but you don’t want any butterfly or moth staying too long in your garden. Their larvae can do serious damage to your plants. Butterflies can help pollenate plants, but you’ll want to move them on their way before they get too comfortable.
Not technically a worm, these caterpillars are one of the worst garden pests around. Cutworms chew through plant stems at ground level and can completely devour small plants, mostly targeting transplanted plants during early summer. You could use cutworm collars or pick cutworms from tilled soil.
It’s rare for anyone to actually like seeing a spider, but garden species are much different than the ones you typically find in your home. You’re likely to find a variety of spiders in your yard and garden, and you can attract them by spreading mulch around your garden. Spiders are incredibly efficient predators, killing more garden pests than every other good bug combined!
Wasps can be a mixed-blessing, so you’ll want to control their spread carefully. Varieties like paper wasps and braconid wasps are terrific hunters of gnawing pests like caterpillars. Wasps usually leave people alone unless you bother them, but try to promote nests away from your home and actively remove wasp nests on your exterior walls.
Not all beetles are created equal, but large beetles are beneficial for your garden while smaller beetles can damage plants. These beetles can grow to nearly an inch long and are amazing for clearing your garden of slugs, snails, cutworms and other pests. Since most beetles are nocturnal, you won’t have to worry about them crawling all over you when you’re tending your garden.