Many is the time I have said, “Spiders are our friends!”
If you find a bug or a spider, try finding out what it is, what it does in the landscape, and whether it might be helping you out in the garden. Pests can be a problem, but what if it’s eating your pests? This is an ecosystem service, and it’s free!
See my post on beneficial insects, and try these successful strategies for encouraging your beneficial allies in the garden:
- Take a deep breath and count to ten when you see insects – it’s not an emergency!
- Figure out what’s eating what (Master Gardener clinics are good places to take your samples, with the plant parts you find them on)
- Protect predators by not spraying poisons
- Predators include birds. Give birds and insects a water and food supply (many beneficial insects especially like flat-topped flower clusters like dill, cilantro, parsley and yarrow, and all adults need nectar and pollen). Planting a hedgerow with shrubs, perennials and trees gives both insects and birds a nice habitat to forage in. Be sure to leave mulch on the ground for predatory beetles and spiders to hide in.
- If you need to save your plants from the pests, leave some pest insects (aka food) for the predators to eat. You can trim off affected plant parts, or even have a sacrificial area where you don’t control any pests. Watch carefully what happens – you might be surprised how many good guys are eating and parasitizing your pests. Sometimes plants get tougher during the season and the bugs give up.
- Check out the Grow Smart Grow Safe searchable databases, and a lot more natural gardening information at Portland and King County metro websites
The Aphid Life Cycle. The Backyard Nature Website http://www.backyardnature.net/aphid_lc.htm.
Here are two helpful websites where you can send digital photos and have EXPERTS tell you what you’ve got – isn’t the internet great?!
And another insect and spider i.d. site