Bugs in the garden

Do not let a fear of bugs prevent you from enjoying gardening.

Butterflies are beautiful, even though their larvae eat holes in plants. So are lady bugs, even though their larvae look like fierce little dragons.

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Many cultures celebrate the beautiful forms of dragonfly, in all their colours sizes and shapes. They eat mosquitos.

Lumbering big black ground beetles eat many garden pests.

As gardeners, we have to make the acquaintance of the foregoing, even the little white cabbage moth, which, as its name implies, lays its eggs on cabbage and chard. The larvae then eat holes in the vegetable leaves. Most insects whose larvae ruin vegetables can be repelled by a light cloth barrier that is applied at the correct time of year.

As for flowers, a densely planted flower garden can usually take care of itself. Of course there will be some leaf damage, but it can be easily overlooked if the flowers are beautiful and all plants are healthy.

At this time of year, you may see red beetles gathering on your Astrantia, or on the umbels of dill or fennel flowers. These are red soldier beetles and like hover or syrphid flies are very hungry for aphids and thrips which suck on your plants and weaken cell walls.

Ants on peonies can be another issue. Relax, they will only be on the blossom while there is nectar on the bud, when the flower opens, they will be gone.

We all know how important honey bees are to our food production, but there are many more insects that do no harm to people but provide major benefits to a mindful gardener. The heavy drone of the native bumble bee provides a soothing back drop to a summer day. The colourful fluttering of butterflies and darting glints of beetles animate the landscape. Learn about all of them to increase your enjoyment of your garden.

Editor’s note: this column is provided weekly online by the South Delta Garden Club.

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