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I was going to write an article all about how much I’m loving Fiskar’s new Easy Pour watering can - how the adjustable flow control makes it easy to apply water to my delicate Baby Blue Eyes flowers that always seem to get obliterated by the water flow from my other watering can. About how easy it was for my daughter to hoist a full load of water (2.6 gallons!) without complaining that it’s ‘too heavy’. About how nice the two handles are, making it a cinch to reach those awkward spots without straining my back.
So, I went out to my garden to photograph my daughter with an ‘action shot’ of the watering can, when she screamed, “ewwww…there’s bugs stuck all over my pants!”
End of photo shoot.
Upon closer inspection I saw the bugs – thousands of them. Thanks to the unusually cool temperatures we’ve experienced this spring, my garden is absolutely overrun with sticky icky aphids.
Did I panic? Did I run to grab the nearest chemicals to spray on them? No. Instead I took my daughter on an ‘Easter egg hunt’ of sorts to look for the good bugs that were (hopefully) descending on this smorgasbord of aphids.
Sure enough, we found what we were looking for – ladybugs! Ladybugs fall into the category of ‘Beneficial Insects’, meaning they’re the good bugs that eat the bad bugs. If I were to just grab the nearest ‘death in a spray bottle’, I’d not only kill the aphids but I’d kill the good bugs as well. Bad idea.
Did you know that less than 3% of the insects in the world are harmful? Most are beneficial and help control the bad bugs while pollinating flowers and improving your soil by decomposing organic matter.
Look a little closer and you might get lucky and find ladybug larvae. They look like orange and black alligators.
As we continued our hunt, we found a Soldier Beetle (the cool looking, rectangular black and orange bug) – another wonderful beneficial insect.
Between ladybugs and soldier beetles, I knew my aphid problem would be under control soon.
And if not, I could always squirt the heavily infested stems with a few strong blasts of water. Did you know that once aphids are knocked down to the ground they can’t climb back up? And if that doesn’t work, I could also use a home remedy of 2 tsp. of mild dish or laundry soap mixed with a squirt bottle filled with lukewarm water. Sprayed weekly this mixture causes the aphids to dehydrate by washing off their protective waxy coating.
One of my very favorite beneficial insects is the praying mantis. Unfortunately, we rarely see them in my area. However, a trip to the nursery is all we need since many sell praying mantis. Keep these little nests in a warm location in the house (in a plastic terrarium – not loose!) In a few weeks you’ll notice them bursting out of their cozy home.
Quickly put them outside, as they’re absolutely voracious when they emerge. If you can find an aphid-covered rosebush, or some other such ‘buffet’, they will start feasting immediately!
Praying mantis are somewhat territorial so you’ll most likely see the same one throughout the summer, hanging around its favorite plant. They quickly grow from this teeny-tiny size to a whopping 4 – 5 inches.
So next time you’re in the garden and you spot the ‘bad bugs’, take a moment to see if you can find the ‘good bugs’. They usually go hand in hand!