Do you like bugs? Getting to know bugs can be a fun—and important—part of enjoying gardening. There are almost 1,000 different types of bugs that live in North Carolina—most of them won’t damage our gardens, and some actually help us!
What ARE bugs?
• Scientists call them “arthropods.”
• Most are insects with 6 legs and 3 main body parts: a head, a thorax, and an abdomen.
• Spiders and daddylonglegs are not insects—they are part of a special group of arthropods called “arachnids.” They have 8 legs and 2 main body parts: a cephalothorax and an abdomen.
What makes good bugs good?
• They live off of bad bugs!
o Some prey on insects: lady beetles (you may call them lady bugs), wheel bugs, soldier bugs, and spiders may eat other insects—young and adult—as well as their eggs.
o Some parasitize insects: braconid wasps, for example, lay their eggs on tomato hornworms so the new hatchlings will have a meal waiting for them!
• They pollinate plants: bees, butterflies, and moths that feed on pollen and/or nectar move pollen from flower to flower, helping pollinate plants.
Where to look for bugs:
• You can find bugs on many garden plants. IMPORTANT: look, but don’t touch! Many bugs can bite (such as wheel bugs) or sting—even touching the “hair” on some caterpillars can hurt! Also, you may injure or kill a helpful bug if you try to catch it!
• Look for insect eggs, young (larvae), and adults:
o On branches
o On flowers
o On the leaves—look underneath the leaves, too!
o In the soil
• One place to start is to have an adult help you look on the internet: For example,https://www.insectidentification.org/bugfinder-start.asp is a page that shows the shape of each type of bug and then helps you decide if the bug you’ve seen is that type of insect or arachnid.
• Identify our native bees here: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/the-bees-of-north-carolina-identification-guide
Protecting good bugs:
If you want good bugs that help control bad bugs in your garden, you need to let them be and be careful about using pesticides!
Make sure that your plants are healthy—plant them in the right amount of sunlight and give them the right amount of water and fertilizer—and that you have some native plants in your garden; healthy plants make good homes for good bugs.
“Lady bugs” for kids: https://www.clemson.edu/public/scbg/education/ladybug1.pdf
North Carolina insects:https://www.insectidentification.org/insects-by-state.asp?thisState=North%20Carolina
Bug facts site:https://www.bugfacts.net/
Has a printable bug checklist:https://www.bugfacts.net/images/checklist-z.pdf
Where to find bugs:http://www.bugpeople.org/pubs/pdf/10SurePlaces.pdf
EMG Blog: https://www.buncombemastergardener.org/beneficial-insects-attracting-good-voracious-ugly-garden/
Good Bugs and Bad Bugs: Student Booklet: http://entomology.tamu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Good_Bugs.pdf
Spider Anatomy: https://www.uky.edu/Ag/CritterFiles/casefile/spiders/anatomy/spideranatomy.htm#palps