I read once that for every pound of people on this earth, there are 70 pounds of insects*. And insects don’t weigh that much individually. So there must be a lot of them out there.
Out there, where we all garden. Bugs, insects, and for sake of completeness, let’s include spiders, too.
We all know that sooner rather than later, as gardeners, we are going to encounter a bug, an insect, a spider, some kind of creepy crawly icky something or other in our garden. And we’ll never get anything done if we scream, drop our pruners and run back inside when we do see something crawling towards us.
If we are to enjoy gardening and have a happy gardening life, we have to learn to co-exist with the bugs, get over any fear we have of them, and embrace them as part of the outdoor experience.
Do you embrace the bugs as part of the whole gardening experience? If not, here are some ways to do so.
1. Learn about them. As a gardener, you need to know which insects are ‘good’ insects and which are ‘bad’ insects. Bad insects are generally those that eat our plants. Good insects are those that eat bad insects. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? If you learn about something, you will fear it less.
2. Respect them. You should learn which insects and spiders can also go after you. Pictured above is a cicada killer attacking a cicada, the best bug picture I’ve ever taken. Normally, a cicada killer won’t bother people, which is why I was brave enough to take that picture. But as my sister can tell you, if it gets up under your skirt, even a cicada killer, a large wasp, will sting a person out of fear. Other wasps, like paper wasps, as I can tell you, will sting if you get too close to their nest.
3. Kill with caution. Yes, at times you will have to kill insects. I’m not talking about stepping on every beetle that crosses your path. On the contrary, in most cases, just let the insects “be”. I’m talking about killing a nest of German yellow jackets because they are nesting under the eave of the house. Insects can turn more aggresive if threatened, so just be careful.
4. Learn which insects and spiders are venomous. Every part of the world has poisonous bugs and spiders. In my area, it’s good to know what the brown recluse spider looks like, though you aren’t likely to encounter one out in the open. And we are just north of where the black widow spiders live, so it’s good to know what those look like, too, just in case one gets lost and comes too far north.
5. Get used to seeing insects so you don’t freak out when you do see them. I recommend looking at pictures of bugs and spiders online, reading a good entomology book with pictures, or maybe even attending a bug festival like the Bug Bowl held at Purdue University each spring.
6. Finally, learn to touch insects. Sometimes the best way to control insects in the garden, like Japenese beetles, is to pick them off the plant and drop them in a bucket of soapy water to drown them. And bagworms are best controlled by pulling them off the plants, yes with your hand, and tossing them in the trash. And when you really get used to touching bugs, you can pick tomato hornworms off your tomato plants.
So stop letting the insects and spiders in your garden ‘bug’ you. Learn to embrace them as part of the gardening experience and you will have a happier life.
*from Flies in the Face of Fashion, Mites Make Right, and Other Bugdacious Tales by Tom Turpin.
Don’t forget to also embrace weeding.
(I’m Carol and I approve this message. Oops, dang, where did that come from? Oh, yeah, all those political commercials. A constant stream of them. Not just on TV, on radio, too. Our primary election can not not get over soon enough for me.)