Contribution by freelance writer Sally Writes.
Every gardener knows that some insects can ravage your precious plants. Keeping on the lookout for pests is important, but it is wrong and even harmful to lump all the little creepy crawlies in your garden into the pest category. Some of the small animals that your garden attracts may look scary and dangerous but are in fact helping it flourish.
Green Shield Bug
As its name suggests, this bug is dark green and shield shaped. Their shape and colour might cause them to be mistaken for oversized aphids which can be devastating to your plants. However, the common green shield bug is a sap sucker and causes no significant damage to the flora on which it feeds.
It is worth noting, however, that recently the green shield bug’s cousin, the southern green shield bug has been found in some parts of Britain. These bugs are arrivals from the continent and have been observed to harm some bean plants, but not seriously.
The hoverfly gets a bad reputation because it resembles a wasp. They sometimes swarm and can appear quite scary. Unfortunately, their appearance leads these harmless flies to be exterminated unnecessarily. A shame, since they are important pollinators, their larvae eat aphids and they eat decaying matter.
To distinguish the hoverfly from the wasp you must, unfortunately, wait until it lands. Hoverflies have only two wings as opposed to a wasp’s four, and the fly’s body does not have the telltale slim “wasp waist”.
Yes, all of them. Despite our visceral reaction to them, the vast majority of spiders are harmless to humans and want less to do with us than we with them. Those spiders that are even physically capable of biting humans usually don’t have enough venom to cause more than an inconvenient pain.
Britain’s collection of household spiders may look frightening but pose no threat. They help us by eating pests from our garden’s as well as our homes. However, it is worth noting that spider mites can be an issue if you grow yucca plants. These small mites are green or yellowish in colour and can be easily removed by washing down your plants with soapy water and spraying them afterwards.
Centipedes are useful in that they prey on harmful creatures like slugs and woodlice. They are voracious predators but pay plant life no mind. They should not be confused with millipedes, which can be slightly damaging to gardens. Like spiders, they can be scary but usually only bite in self-defence.
Cultivate Your Ecosystem
A healthy garden has a complimentary balance of plant and animal life. Don’t get trigger-happy and kill the little creatures who are there to help.