Everyone knows there are some bugs that are good for the garden and some that are not. But some of the most common “good” bugs have nastier look-alikes. Here’s how to tell them apart, and tips on how to deal with the “bad” bugs in your garden. Whenever you deal with pests or the chemicals that control them, remember to protect your hands and nails by wearing Dig It® gloves.
Earwigs vs. Rove Beetles
Rove Beetles (left) and Earwigs (right) look quite similar, but Rove Beetles have longer, slimmer bodies.
What makes Rove Bugs good: They feed on other insects, such as mites, flies, aphids, mosquitoes, fleas and fly maggots that infest carrion.
Controls: If you find these insects annoying, clean up the garden by removing decaying matter, and these beetles will disappear on their own.
A tell-take difference between an earwig and a rove beetle is that earwigs have forcep-like pincers on the end of their abdomen.
What makes Earwigs bad: If they are in the garden in sufficient numbers, they can feed on and damage lettuce, strawberries, dahlias, marigolds, zinnias and roses.
Controls: As with rove beetles, you can discourage earwigs from taking up residence in the garden by keeping the garden clean and free of hiding places such as leaf litter, stones and various debris.
Ladybugs vs. Mexican Bean Beetles
Lady bugs (left) vary from yellow to orange to red and have dome-shaped bodies and black heads. whereas Mexican bean beetles (right) are copper coloured and have 8 spots on each wing.
What makes ladybugs good: Aphids and scale are harmful to ornamental and vegetable crops, and lady bugs are a natural way of controlling these pests.
Controls: The only need to control lady bugs is when they enter your house, where the walls mimic the vertical cliffs where they overwinter in their home countries.
Mexican bean beetles are notoriously destructive and are particularly attracted to beans and peas.
What makes Mexican bean beetles bad: The adults and larvae feed on the undersides of leaves. A serious infestation can result in leaves that have a lace-like appearance.
Controls: Selecting legume varieties that can be planted early and mature quickly will allow harvesting before the beetles have a chance to get established and do too much damage.
Mealybugs Vs. Mealybug Destroyers
Mealybug Destroyers are members of the ladybug family and in their larval stage the mealybug destroyer has a cigar-shaped body with wooly appendages and looks as if it has been rolled in flour.
What makes Mealybug destroyers good: Mealybug destroyers attack their prey at different stages of development, devouring mealybug eggs as soon as they hatch.
Control: There is no need to control this beneficial pest. Just make sure you can tell the difference between these heros and their look-alike foes.
Mealybugs are a common pest whose infestations can be identified by a characteristic fuzzy, white mess they secrete onto the stems and leaves of plants.
What makes Mealybugs bad: Mealy bugs damage plants, including houseplants, by sucking liquids out of them.
Control: If you just see a few mealybugs, they can be killed by dipping a cotton tip in isopropyl alcohol and daubing the insect with it. Wear your Dig It® gloves to protect hands and nails.