Many insects play beneficial and important roles in the health of your garden. Good bugs help keep out the bad ones and pollinate your plants.
However, there are some garden pests you just want to get rid of, including the Asian lady beetles pictured above. These beetles look similar to garden-friendly ladybugs but Asian lady beetles, identified by the black “M” behind their heads, bite and are actually an invasive species.
That’s why you’ll want to know how to tell which ones to lure and which to repel or eradicate from your outdoor space.
5 ways to tell the good bugs from bad bugs
1. Know the signs
Inspect your plants. If you spot holes in leaves, curling leaves or insects chewing on your plants, you have a problem pest and it’s time to take action.
2. Identify the bad guys
Once you’ve seen damage, consult our Weed, Plant & Pest Problem-Solver tool or check with an associate at your local The Home Depot Garden Center to identify the guilty culprit. See this post from our Community describing some of the common pests you may encounter in your garden.
Aphids, spider mites, Colorado potato beetles, scale bugs, mealy bugs and caterpillars are all examples of bad bugs.
You’ll want to find the right solution – including, potentially, an organic pest control solution – for the right bug. For example, beneficial nematodes such as the Nema Globe, can be helpful in ridding your plants of pests, including grubs, flea larvae, weevils, cutworms and more.
Diatomaceous Earth treats pests organically, too. This product helps control pests such as roaches, slugs, ants, earwigs, silverfish, millipedes, centipedes, fleas, ticks, aphids and snails.
3. Spot them early
If you’re lucky, you can prevent serious damage with a little education. Learn how to identify a cocoon or egg case to stop a bad bug before it even hatches.
If you find one that is unidentifiable, take a photo to your Garden Center associate and ask for help or consult the above mentioned online pest problem-solver tool.
4. Understand why bugs can be good
Aside from pollination, good bugs offer pest control. They eat bad bugs, reducing your need for chemical insecticides. Insects such as the lacewing, pictured above, ladybug, assassin bug, parasitic wasp, praying mantis, ground beetle, centipede and millipede are all predators of bad bugs.
Some can even be purchased and released in your garden.
5. Plant to attract good bugs
To attract good bugs, you’ll need to provide good living conditions. Grow plants they love such as mint, daisy, cosmos and clover. If all else fails, sacrifice a few tasty plants to draw bad bugs away from your garden. Plant them near the perimeter of your garden or yard.