Identifying Bugs In A Canadian Garden

Identifying Bugs In A Canadian Garden
Identifying Bugs In A Canadian Garden

All Canadian gardeners from experts to beginners stumble upon a new bug and wonder, “is this bug okay for my garden?” In this blog post we are going to be taking a deep dive into the world of Canadian garden bugs and their relationship to the garden. By the end of this reading adventure you will have a better understanding of what is a threat and what is a good friend to keep around. Lets begin the deep dive into identifying bugs in a Canadian garden.

Many bugs in the garden fall under the category of arthropods. This simply means they have an exoskeleton and no backbone, which I am sure you already knew. What you maybe didn’t know was that there are 200 species of just mites in a single square foot by two inch deep soil patch. That just one family of garden arthropods, imagine if we included all arthropods in that count.

All garden bugs have a role, for some it involves the soil. While others are in charge of the leaves & flowers. And others being an all out nuisance. For the ease of identifying beneficial Canadian garden bugs from harmful Canadian garden bugs we are using four categories. Shredders, predators, herbivores & pollinators.

Soil Shredders

A majority of large arthropods are seen on the soil surface, the root zone and foliage are considered shredders. This for obvious reasons is a bad thing, but in some cases there may be benefits. The shedders that occupy the soil enjoy eating the dead plant material. When the dead plant material is consumed things such as bacteria and fungi are also consumed. This means we will have greater porosity on the soil and a decrease in soil borne infections.

Examples of beneficial Canadian garden bug shredders include millipedes, sowbugs, termites, certain mites, and beetles. Keep in mind even the beneficial shedders can pose an issue if the population is large. When the dead plant material is all eaten, shredders will turn to living plant material. Non beneficial Canadian garden bugs that shred would include worms and most beetles. The best way to control this pest is with the use of diatomaceous earth.

If your garden has a continual issue with dead foliage type diseases such, as powdery mildew. You want to consider introducing more shredders to your garden. As the dead foliage is eaten the fungal spores carrying powdery mildew will also disappear. Sometimes the dead foliage is to small for a rake to pick up but to a small millipede it is the perfect size.

Beneficial Canadian Predator Garden Bugs

Predators are most definitely the garden bug you want. These eat all the harmful critters and prevent them from causing any garden plant damage. The predator family of garden bugs is so effective at preventing a pest infestation that many are sold to greenhouses. This form of pest control is called a biopesticide or biocontrol. 

Predators include centipedes, spiders, ground-beetles, lady bugs, ants, lacewings, praying mantis and some mites. If you see any of these critters in the garden be sure to leave them be. A diverse number of predatory garden bugs will ensure a wide range of pests are taken care of. These critters are also effective in an indoor house plant set up.

In many cases the predatory is too small to even see and therefore will not bother you. A good example of this is predatory nematodes. These worm-like critters are too small for the human eye but are powerful enough to eat the eggs of slugs, snails, ants, thrips, scales, mealy bugs, fungus gnats, and the list goes on.

Nasty Canadian Herbivore Garden Bugs

Herbivore garden bugs are similar to shredders. The big difference being they will not feed on dead plant material, the main course is your green foliage. This is why the herbivore category is strictly considered a problem pest. One exception to this would be the leaf cutter bee because it is an efficient pollinator that does take portions of your living plant for its nest.

Examples of herbivore garden bugs would include slugs, snails, cutworms, grasshoppers, ground beetles, spined solider bug, thrips, mealy bugs & hornworms. The best method of prevention is actually to cover up the plants with bug cloth until the threat has disappeared.

Beneficial Canadian Pollinators 

This last one is pretty obvious and includes the harmless enjoyable garden bugs. The range of pollinators is much larger than you may think. All forms of bees, wasps, ants and butterflies. We have lots of articles on the site talking about how to attract more backyard pollinators so be sure to check them out.

When To Treat Harmful Bugs

It’s important to remember then having only a few of the harmful garden bugs is normal. Their presence is a sign of biodiversity and biodiversity is essential to both soil and plant health. If you are noticing pest damage that harms more than 10% of your plants then it’s a good idea to treat the issue. 

However, if you are noticing damage but are able to mechanically remove the pest while keeping the damage under control, consider not treating. Chemicals are less than ideal for a backyard gardener and biological control can become expensive. Sometimes simply using our fingers is all the control we need.

Summary Of Bugs In A Canadian Garden

You are now ready to take on the world of garden bugs. Remember if the damage to your plants is under 10% then try to mechanically remove the pest before treating the plant. 

The use of chemical treatments often harm both harmful and beneficial critters. The best method for fighting bugs is with more bugs, this is why checking out our other posts of attracting pollinators and biodiversity will help you out in your journey.

Let us know in the comments below what your favourite beneficial garden bug is. Or give us an example of a garden bug you dislike and have had issues with in the past.