Not All Bugs Are Bad!

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Not All Bugs Are Bad!

 

Summer may be when crops thrive, but so do insects. Vanessa Phillips reports on some bugs to look out for this summer.

They can lead gardeners to despair and ruin crops seemingly overnight, but not all bugs are bad. In the home garden there's a whole functional ecosystem, says Nelson entomologist Richard Toft.

Some insects are predators or parasites, he says, while others have dual roles - such as the Asian paper wasp, which are useful to have around if you're growing cabbages because their favourite food is the larvae of the nuisance white butterflies, but on the downside they also like monarch caterpillars.

Some bugs help break down compost, while others are helpful pollinators.

Mr Toft says that when it comes to pest control, gardeners need to use a bit of common sense, because the use of toxic insecticides can also harm helpful insects.

"It becomes a personal choice issue," Mr Toft says.

"Once you go down that chemical treatment route you are often committed to it because you are reducing the numbers of predators as well."

He explains that in many cases the damage done to crops by insects is related to appearance, or "the yuck factor", and the produce may still be edible.

With the varroa bee mite meaning there's less bees around to pollinate crops, people should also put in plants that will encourage pollinators and predators into the garden, he says. Hoverflies, for example, are attracted by flowers such as alyssum, and will help pollinate crops, but their larvae are also predators of aphids and scale, Mr Toft says.

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Comments

Much of what makes a "bug" either "good" or "bad" is the context, and the location of the creature.  
 
 
 
Wood destrying pests such as termites for example are a bane on every structure made of wood or containing wood products.  
 
 
 
On the other hand if not for termites (and other wood destroying pests) there would be no mechanism for breaking down dead trees in the forest.  
 
 
 
Termites (and other wood destroying pests) eating a downed tree in the middle of the forest is good; those same termites (or other wood pests) eating my home or wood pile on the other hand is bad news!
Posted @ Wednesday, December 23, 2009 4:52 PM by Eric
Good bugs = food for the pets that eat them. 
 
 
 
I have a frog in my wall at home. Now the dude is a BAD pest...
Posted @ Thursday, December 24, 2009 9:48 AM by Mike
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