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Good bug/bad bug

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Good bud/bad bug

When you think of crickets, you likely think of hot summers.  Likely not, that they’re detritivores and more.  They eat decaying plant matter, among other things.  For a gardeners purpose, that’s okay.  It also means the excrete it back to your soil.  Sounds gross but it’s not a bad thing!  Of course if you have an infestation, like this year’s Earwig population, you might consider them a bad bug.  (Insect!)

Cricket chirping cartoonCricket

Okay, I had no idea but apparently you can buy crickets, keep them in an aquarium type container, feed them, water them, keep them healthy and not stressed …  and then feed them to your reptiles.  The things you learn on the  internet…  There’s even a video of how to keep your crickets happy and healthy until you feed them to your snake.

From the moment the assassin bug hatches, it’s a killing machine.  They eat insects including Japanese beetles and stinkbugs by using their mouthparts to pierce the soft areas between the exoskeleton and sucking out their innards!

Assassin bug

Assassin bug

The above is just ONE of 3,000 types of assassin bugs!  do a google search and you’ll find a gazillion.  Well, maybe not quite THAT many!  Their bite is painful to humans.  Wear gloves or be prepared for a little pain.  These dudes do their duty in the garden but the bite might not feel right to YOU!

The little hoverfly seems like it would be useless but au contraire! their larvae eat aphids.

Hover fly

Hover fly

Tachnid flies look like bristly houseflies and all of them are parasitoids, they kill their hosts!  They help keep garden pest populations down!

Tachnid fly

Tachnid fly

Parasitic wasps are not choosy, they attack and eat all insects but their favorites include aphids, mealybugs and caterpillars.  And then there’s the robber fly.  It’s known as the shark of the insect world.  A powerful predator, they dart from perches and catch grasshoppers, dragonflies, wasps and even japanese beetles.  They paralyze their victims with venom.  Below is a look at just one type of Parasitic Wasp!

parasitic wasp

parasitic wasp

BugGuide is a great site to peruse all kinds of crawly creatures.

Rather than killing insects willy nilly, it’s a good thing to know WHO you’re dealing with.  You might want to keep that wasp or fly or cricket or assassin bug in your garden!

PS, you might find anthracnose in your garden due to the very wet weather.  That’s a fungal disease.  It’s not really something to be too concerned with but identification is always a good thing.

 

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