A Beginner Gardener’s Guide to Spotting Good and Bad Bugs

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If you’re new to the world of gardening, you should know that it isn’t uncommon to see bugs and insects circling your garden every day. And while you may think that finding any bug or insect is an instant red flag, this isn’t always the case. Contrary to popular belief, not all bugs are bad for your garden. While some can destroy the fruits of your hard work, other bugs and insects can help you keep your garden beautiful while protecting your crops and plants from destructive pests.

Keeping Pests for Ruining Your Garden

When it comes to pest control, new gardeners tend to opt for chemical or organic pesticides to rid their gardens of pesky bugs. However, using these can also kill the good bugs that are beneficial to your garden’s growth. Fortunately, there’s a more natural way to do this.

The first step to natural pest control is identifying a destructive pest and a beneficial bug or insect. Fortunately, it isn’t as hard as you might think. You need to follow these simple steps:


First, you need to take a close look at the insects you see in your garden and look at what they’re up to. If you notice bugs or insects feeding on your plants or see a group of insects in your garden, these are most likely pests. You can also snap a photo of the bug if you’re unsure whether it’s good or bad for your garden.


Once you have a photo of the unknown creature, compare it to images you can find on expert sites like the Agricultural Research Service Image Gallery and other reputable sites with accurate photos of different bug and insect species.


After comparing photos, you should be able to tell whether a bug or insect in your garden is beneficial to you or is a pest.

To further help you keep your garden healthy and safe from pests, here are some examples of bugs and insects you should and shouldn’t keep in your garden.


Bugs that Need to Go

  • Aphids are commonly known as plant lice and are as big as the head of a pin. If you have a lot of growing plants in your garden, these pests can hamper the growth of your plants, which can be a big problem if you have vegetables or flowering plants in your garden.
  • Caterpillars come in different types, but they’re generally bad for your yard. Caterpillars are known for chewing on leaves, flowers, shoots, leaves, and even tunneling into fruits, leaving eggs and excrement.
  • Japanese beetles are attracted to various plants like shrubs, trees, nursery plants, and even grass. If you see these in your garden, it’s important to try to get rid of them as quickly as possible, especially when they are in swarms, as they can destroy your plants in a short amount of time.
  • Improper watering practices can lead to an accumulation of stagnant water. This attracts mosquitoes who seek out even small pools of water to lay their larvae. Not only is this bad for your yard, but it also poses a threat to you and your household, with some mosquitoes carrying diseases like dengue and malaria. Once you start seeing them, it’s important to control the mosquitoes right away to avoid getting bitten.
  • While stink bugs are related to assassin bugs, not all of them are good for your garden. Not only do they release a weird odor, but they also tend to lay their eggs on plants and feed on fruits and vegetables you may be growing in your yard.

Bugs that Will Help Your Garden Grow

  • If you’re not a fan of pesticides and looking for a more natural way to control pests in your garden, many insects are more than happy to help you as long as you give them what they need. One of them is the assassin bug, which uses its large proboscis to neutralize prey, including grasshoppers and caterpillars.
  • Hoverflies are a great addition to have in your garden, as they imitate wasps and bees while hovering over plants, waiting to attack beetles, aphids, caterpillars. Not only that, but they also help pollinate your plants.
  • While bees don’t directly help get rid of pests, they are similar to hoverflies because they feed on pollen and nectar and help pollinate the plants in your yard.
  • If you find your garden getting swarmed with mosquitoes, flies, and other flying insects, dragonflies can help you get rid of these pests. Consider adding a small garden pond to your yard if you want to invite them to protect your garden.
  • Despite their appearance and ability to inflict painful stings, centipedes can help keep your garden in check by keeping slugs away from your precious crops and plants.

Gardening is hard work, and seeing bugs and insects trying to damage your yard can be discouraging. However, it’s important to note that seeing an insect or two doesn’t mean that your garden is about to be infested. If you want to keep your garden healthy, remember that knowledge and effort are power. Knowing the difference between good and bad bugs and insects will help you keep your garden beautiful and healthy.

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