By Debbie Green
The garden isn’t looking good and you see bugs on some of the plants—what should you do? Identify both the plants and the critters you see; those bugs may be the solution rather than the problem!
Environmental issues—soil, nutrient and weather extremes or damage by people or wildlife cause more sad-looking plants than insects or diseases. And 90% of insects are either beneficial or “innocent bystanders,” not pests! The bug you see on a chewed leaf may be on its way somewhere else or getting ready to consume the eggs, larvae or adults of the bad guys responsible for the damage.
Plant and Bug ID
Mistaken identity takes many forms. Plant pests are often specific to one or a few closely related plants, so it’s important know what plant is affected. Both plants and bugs have look-alikes that might fool you. For fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants, shrubs and trees you’ve planted, checking the seed packets or plant tags is easy. For things already in your landscape, do some detective work—our Extension Master Gardener Volunteers can help! We can help with the bugs, too, but check the resources listed to know your insect companions.
If you find a pest on a plant, doing nothing may be best. Most pesticides will kill any beneficial insects working to clear out the offenders, so handpicking large pests or using water to hose off smaller ones may be all you need to limit the damage. If the plant is severely damaged, decide if keeping the plant is worth the cost of using a pesticide. If you want to proceed, verify the product will kill the insect you’ve identified and is safe for the plant so you don’t grow perfect tomatoes you can’t eat.
Come to our “Good Bug, Bad Bug” presentation 7/16/15
10:00 – 11:30 am
Buncombe County Extension Office Classroom
94 Coxe Avenue, Asheville
Debbie Green and