The growing season is coming to an end and we are busy closing our gardens and making preparations for next year. So much to do! Cutting back perennials, cleaning up a seemingly endless supply of leaves, planting bulbs for that early spring splash of color. Even with so many things to think of as we near the end of another growing season, many families are focused on one thing: it’s Halloween time!!
Over the years the costumes have improved, the decoration displays get bigger and scarier, and undoubtedly, our misunderstood garden helpers get put on display to gross out and frighten. Insects and spiders have become a standard in Halloween gags, pranks, displays and décor that seem to awaken all of our irrational fears about our 6 or 8 legged friends.
To try and balance out all of the negative attention, here are three of the beneficial ‘bugs’ we can find right in our own backyards:
Ground Beetles – While some types of beetles can be serious home garden pests, others are the best pest-fighters around. These medium to large, blue-black beetles typically hide under stones or boards during the day. By night they prey on cabbage root maggots, cutworms, snail and slug eggs, and other pests; some climb trees to capture armyworms or tent caterpillars.
Jumping Spiders – The Jumping Spider lives in woods, fields or gardens. It is often seen on tree trunks, fallen limbs, leaves, or other ground litter. The Jumping Spider gets its name because of its amazing leaping ability. Male Jumping Spiders are between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch long while females are slightly larger. These spiders do not build webs to catch prey but hunt their prey on foot. They use silk to make a small shelter under a leaf or bark. These spiders eat all sorts of insects as well as other spiders. Their inquisitive behavior and rapid stop and go movements can provide quite a show!
Lady Beetle – The adult Lady Beetle, or Lady Bug, is easy for us to picture in our heads with its shiny red exoskeleton speckled with black or white dots. This family of small to medium beetles includes more than 3,000 species that feed on small, soft pests such as aphids, mealybugs and spider mites. Both adults and larvae (pictured) eat pests. Most larvae have tapering bodies with several short, branching spines on each segment.
Look for these friendly insects in your garden as you finish up your end-of-the season tasks. And if your fall maintenance is ‘bugging’ you, call us to help!