Grateful For Bugs
“ONE INDICATOR THAT SOIL IS GOING OUT OF BALANCE COMES WHEN SPECIES THAT ONCE GREW WELL NO LONGER DO,” says Steve Solomon in his book about growing nutrient-dense food.
But even in balanced soil you sometimes get a few bugs. Luckily for me I love bugs good and bad. But many gardeners at large only like good bugs. And they do everything in their power position to get rid of the bad guys. I had a neighbor once who hired a killer to eliminate all the young ladybugs on her tree because she thought they were pests. And this is not unusual. I encounter bug squeamish-ness among friends and family all the time.
But sadly, If you only get “good bugs” in the garden you are missing the other half. The bugs the good ones need to eat to survive. I love hoverflies (seen approaching the columbine above) because they lay eggs among aphid populations and their hatching maggots eat hoards of aphids. The adults hoverflies know when and where the aphids appear. The small hovering “wasps” pollinate flowers and lay eggs when they find aphids. When the eggs hatch into maggots, they fill their tummies with yummy sugar-filled aphids.
So I ask the question. How can you love the good bugs and not the bad bugs? They are co-evolved. In my greenhouse I saw aphids recently. Well I actually saw the white skins aphids shed as they grow up. But the hoverflies were way ahead of me. They had already been there, laid eggs and hatched into hungry caterpillars…. well not exactly caterpillars. The immature part of a wasp is called a maggot. But in this case it is an aphid-eating maggot so I love it.
If you see brown maggots on your tomatoes or nasturtiums or roses you know you won the big prize in the lottery of life today. Help has arrived and there is nothing more for you to do. Just sit back and relax and be grateful for bugs because the good ones have arrived to help. Let them do their job and the garden will be good to go. Now get back to work focussing, as Steve Solomon suggests, on balancing your soils for healthier crops. Balanced soils equal health for gardeners eating the produce.
Donna Balzer is the Brand Ambassador for BCGreenhouse Builders and she has two greenhouses in her big backyard.
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