Insect in the garden

BUG & INSECT CRAFTS FOR KIDS: Ideas to make bugs & insects with easy arts and crafts decorations, instructions, patterns, and activities for children, preschoolers, and teens

Home > Arts and Crafts Projects for Kids > Animals Crafts > Bugs & Insects Crafts Arts and Crafts Projects Ideas for your Kids

Bugs and insects are members of the anthropoid family. They have no backbone, an exoskeleton, and three pairs of legs. Most insects have two sets of wings and a pair of antennae on the top of the head. There are quite a few bugs and insects themed crafts children can choose from. For example: ants, bees, beetles, butterflies, caterpillars, flies, grasshoppers, crickets, ladybugs, mosquitoes, scorpions, snails, spiders and worms. They can even create their own unique insect. Bees, butterflies, ladybugs and caterpillars seem to be the favorite among children. They can make caterpillars from recycled egg cartons and a ladybug from a smooth round rock and acrylic paints.

Ant Crafts

Bumblebees Crafts

Butterfly Crafts

Caterpillar Crafts

Fly Crafts

Grasshopper & Cricket Crafts

Ladybug Crafts

Mosquito Crafts

Scorpion Crafts

Snails

Spider Crafts

Worm Crafts

How to Make Jar Lid Bugs

These bugs are cute and easy enough to make. Use a jar lid to make the bug’s body. Spread glue all over the cap, as in picture #1. Then sprinkle glitter all over the jar lid, as in picture #2 above. Then add googly eyes. Glue pipe cleaners on the inside of the cap and then spread them out as seen above. You can also paint on a smile if you want to.

Make Pom-Pom Ball Bugs

Make this cute little pom-pom bug with only a few items. First of all, print these paper feet out. Then color them in whatever color you decide they should be. Then glue them to the bottom of a large pom-pom ball, as seen in picture #2 above. Then glue googly eyes to the front of the pom-pom ball. Next get a pipe cleaner and 2 tiny pom-pom balls. Cut two small pieces of pipe cleaner off (depending how large you want the antennae to be). Glue a small pom-pom ball to the top of each pipe cleaner piece. Let them dry and then paste each antennae to the back of the large pom-pom bug. Let dry and then you can have fun playing with your little bug.

Now that you are suspicious about every speck you might see in your house, here’s what the researchers didn’t find: not a single brown recluse spider or bed bug. They didn’t find very many fleas. Most of the arthropods they found were harmless, minute, accidental visitors lured in from the outdoors to a quiet death from starvation, dehydration, or cobweb spiders.

The number of bugs in our houses makes more sense when you consider that human-built spaces encompass an area as large as some natural biomes globally. But we know far more about the animals outside our houses than in them. “The finding that ‘non-pest’ species made up the majority, … and the sheer number and prevalence of arthropod groups found highlights current lack of knowledge,” says University of Liverpool biologist Crystal Frost.

Many of the insects identified in the study weren’t able to be identified to species—and some of them will probably turn out to be new species. Our homes aren’t the Galapagos Islands, but they are unique environments that organisms may specialize in. We know that some fungi are found only in bathrooms and washing machines, and the same is quite likely of a few insects and spiders from this study. Carpet beetles, clothes moths, and cobweb spiders have limited abilities to disperse on their own, but we move them from place to place with our belongings.

This research is being continued across several continents, with hopes of finding patterns in our arthropod bunkmates. Their preliminary data is clear—you’ve got bugs in your house. All of you.

Keep Calm and Arthropod On

You probably weren’t freaking out about the hundreds (probably thousands) of tiny animals in your home before you read this, so why not strive to reclaim that Zen state of blissful ignorance? Even better, embrace the amazing diversity all around you. Wildlife doesn’t stop at your doorstep. It comes inside with you and lives on you.

Our homes are places of extreme environments and change. Showers go from dry to torrents of scalding water in an instant; sinks are deluged with minty alcoholic mouthwash, caustic cleaners, and hair from our grooming rituals. Humidity and temperature in ductwork change abruptly as air conditioning or heating kicks on. Anything that manages to live in this environment should get at least a little grudging admiration.

This research is just the latest in a series of papers beginning to investigate the urban environment around you. Most of the info is profoundly disturbing to people who want their homes to be immaculate. Microbial communities on our pillow cases and toilet seats are remarkably similar. Follicle mites are having sex in your facial pores right now. In the last 50 years, American basements were quietly taken over by a foreign species of camel cricket. No one noticed. It’s exploration of a whole new frontier, a new environment in which we can all be participants in the science.

You are an animal, surrounded by other animals. Get. Over. It.

Bertone et al. (2016), Arthropods of the great indoors: characterizing diversity inside urban and suburban homes.
PeerJ 4:e1582; DOI 10.7717/peerj.1582

Martin et al. 2015. Evolution of the indoor biome. DOI 10.1016/j.tree.2015.02.001

Epps et al. 2014. Too big to be noticed: Cryptic invasion of Asian camel crickets in North American houses. PeerJ 2: e523; DOI 10.7717/peerj.523

Bugs In The Garden: The Most Common Garden Pests To Look Out For

There are probably hundreds of insects that plague our gardens daily but the most common plant pests seem to do the most damage. Once you recognize these bugs in the garden, you can start taking steps to protect your plants with effective control. Here is a rundown of the more common problem garden insects to get you started.

Common Plant Pests to Look Out for

The flying, crawling pests are out and bugging your veggies, ornamentals and flowers. Holes in your leaves, sooty mold, tunnels in soil, yellow and dying turf, damaged fruit, mounds in the lawn…these are just a few of the signs that your garden is under attack by some of the most common garden pests. The type in your landscape will depend upon the area in which you live, but the majority of these are found across North America.

Flying Insect Pests

We all love to see the honeybees flitting about and doing their good work, but there are other fliers that are not so beneficial in the garden. Some of the most damaging of the common plant pests are:

  • Spotted Wing Drosophila – Looks like an orange fly. Damages cherries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries as well as some pomes.
  • Cabbage Moth – It isn’t the moth that does the damage but its larvae. You will observe these small white moths on kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and other brassicas where they lay eggs. The subsequent cabbageworms will then make quick work of these plants as they feed on the foliage.
  • Grasshoppers – Although most grasshoppers “hop” long distances, many fly too. These thick-bodied insects are responsible for some of the worst crop damage ever recorded.
  • Whiteflies – Tiny white flying moth-like insects, whiteflies are difficult to control in large numbers. They also excrete honeydew, which attracts ants and upon which sooty mold may develop.

Crawlers

Many of the crawling insects that do the most damage are larvae. They may be from flying, burrowing or crawling insects but their damage is usually severe. Consider that one adult insect might lay hundreds of eggs on a plant and each one hatches. That amounts to hordes of voracious juveniles that will attack that plant. Some of the more common bugs in the garden that creep are:

  • Aphids – Coming in many colors and often found clinging to leaves and stems of plants of en masse, aphids not only suck the sap from plants but leave behind honeydew which leads to sooty mold fungus.
  • Scale – Some types of scale are stationary, but there are a few species may fly. They look just as the name suggests, hugging plant stems closely as they suck sap juices.
  • Sawfly larvae – Small caterpillar-like larvae with one simple eye on each side of the head and one leg on each segment of the abdomen, these pests leave holes or notches in leaves, and may also skeletonize the plants in large numbers.
  • Snails and Slugs – Ask almost anyone if these slimy monopods aren’t the bane of their existence. Both snails and slugs commonly make large holes in leaves, and seedlings can be eaten down to the ground.
  • Ants – Armies of ants can swarm fruit and flower buds. While most often attracted to honeydew or plant nectar, they don’t specifically damage the plants but can signal the presence of sap-sucking insects like aphids.
  • Earwigs – These are a mixture of good and bad as they also feed on aphids and other problem garden insects. But earwigs also damage flowers and vegetables with their feeding.
  • Borers – Borers of all kinds, especially squash borers and peach borers, burrow into plant tissue. They attack vegetables, ornamentals and even trees.
  • Spider Mites – The adults fly but the juveniles get around on wind and the fine nets they spin. Spider mites cause similar damage to aphids with extensive leaf stippling.

Controlling Common Garden Pests

Many pests of the garden hide in plant debris. Cleaning up refuse around the property limits the hiding spaces for many insects.

Borax sprinkled around ant hills kills the colony, while diatomaceous earth rips the soft bellies of slugs and snails.

Flying insects and those that live on plants will succumb to frequent sprays of horticultural oils and soaps. There are also many listed chemical formulas for most common bugs if you prefer to go that route.

The key to preventing major infestations is vigilance. Look at plants daily and start treatments immediately.

Kids Guide to Beneficial Bugs for the Garden

As grownups we may have complicated comfort levels with bugs, but your kids are fascinated by them. Now is the time to engage them on the topic, before they potentially inherit our adult phobias. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to relate insect activity to their own backyard or community garden.

Understanding the role of insects in gardening and farming can be perplexing. The mind tends to consider the negative relationship between the two, inciting visions of ravaged crops. However, when it comes to organic gardening, no instrument can serve your child’s gardening project quite as well as insects – the right kind of insects, that is. These insects, are affectionately known as beneficial bugs.

Beneficial bugs are those species that perform valued “gardening/farming services” such as pollination and pest control. That’s right, bugs can be used to battle bugs. Explaining it to your children in this manner will really get them excited about the concept! Let’s take a look at which ones your children will want to invite into their garden.

All images courtesy of .com

Children’s Guide to Insect Species that Will Help their Garden Grow

Ladybugs

Ladybugs, or Coccinellidae, are cute as a button and their likeness is used on and in children’s clothes, books, cartoons and movies. It’s probably the most popular of insects. Who doesn’t love them? Well, plant-destroying aphids for one! There are over 6000 species of ladybugs, forming a global battalion against mildew, aphids, and mealy worms. Ladybugs are credited as saving the entire citrus industry of California. You won’t find a better bug to invite into your child’s garden.

Praying Mantis

The praying mantis, or mantidae, is one of the most recognizable insects in the world. Kids are quick to label it as the coolest looking bug around and it’s about to get cooler. This species is often considered to be a perfect hunter, gobbling up all varieties of garden pests in its path, putting it at the top of the garden insect food chain. The only concern, is that the praying mantis has no regard for the health for your garden’s other beneficial bugs, and will devour them as well. If your garden depends on the activities of many beneficial bugs then you will want to control the praying mantis population. Regardless, this insect helps maintain the ecological balance required for sustainable and successful gardening. Fun fact: The praying mantis can swivel it’s head nearly 360 degrees and because of its pseudo-pupils it appears to make eye contact with you. Perhaps it can?

Bees

Bees, or Anthophila, are probably the most commonly known beneficial bugs, given their capacity for pollinating flora and vegetable based plants. Bees are primary pollinators of entomophilous plants – those that are pollinated by insects (versus wind pollination). Approximately 30% of the world’s edible crops depend upon bee pollination. This indicates a direct correlation between their health and our own. When it comes to your child’s gardening project, bees are an essential part of the eco-system.

Wasps

Like their cousins (bees) wasps, or Hymenoptera, are a primary pollinator. What makes wasps even more effective, is that they are also predators. Wasps feed upon small insects and the yellow jacket variety scavenges dead insects and larvae in your garden in order to feed them to their young. Wasps can be a nuisance to humans in the garden, so you will want to keep the population in check, but a few certainly help balance out the ecological profile of your child’s sustainable garden.

Dragonflies

Dragonflies, or Anisoptera, are in contention for the ladybugs’ title when it comes adored insects. Children are obsessed with this colorful and plane-like species. In addition to their aesthetic beauty, dragonflies serve your garden well as a predator of aphids, flies, midges, mosquitoes, and will even help you manage your wasp population should it get out of control (sorry yellow jackets).

Ground Beetles

Not as pretty as some of the other bugs mentioned above, the ground beetle, or Carabidae, is no less effective in the garden. As per their name, this species’ predatory work takes place down below in the soil. Ground beetles gobble up slugs, snails, cabbage maggots, and other creepy crawly pests that are known to ravage your garden. This beneficial bug also enjoys feasting on weed seeds which further protects your crops.

Lacewings

Lacewings, or Neuroptera, consume a disproportionate number of aphids, caterpillars, mealybugs, scales, thrips, and whiteflies. What makes lacewings so unique is that even their larvae serves as an effective predator, devouring hundreds of aphids before pupating.

Soldier Beetles

Soldier beetles, or Coleoptera, form an organic army against the usual suspects of pests, including aphids. But this species is also an effective combatant when it comes to caterpillars and other soft-bodied bugs. Like lacewings, this insect’s larvae are also weapons against harmful garden bugs, feeding on the eggs and larvae of grasshoppers, moths and other beetles.

Spined Soldier Bug

Another soldier in the war against garden pests, the Podisus maculiventris is often mistaken by your children as a “stink bug” (Halyomorpha halys), their odorous cousin. Distinguished by its pointed shoulders, the spined soldier bug uses its sharp proboscis to attack unwitting cabbage loopers, moths, army worms, caterpillars, flea beetles and potato bugs. One of the great things about the spined soldier beetle is that even when your garden is free of its favorite delicacies the insect feasts on plant sap, without ever harming the plant itself. Looks like this beneficial bug has as much of a sweet tooth as your kids!

For other gardening tips and online tools for children to learn more about sustainable living, visit the Plant a Seed & See What Grow’s Kids Corner.

YESTERDAY: In part one of Patrick Gray’s interview with Les Goldsmith, we learned that it is possible to import sophisticated listening devices and other spy equipment to Australia with little or no government oversight.

We pick up the interview with Patrick asking just who uses this kit.

Patrick Gray (PG): I believe in the US it is private investigators that are a bit on the shonky side engaged in this sort of stuff. But who is it doing it in Australia?

Les Goldsmith (LG): You are absolutely right. In the US… the media highlights the private investigators being the major offenders. In Australia… they are probably more likely to have someone closer to home to install it or to find someone they can pay who is not going to talk.

PG: Between the availability of the equipment online and the simplicity of having the device put in there you don’t really need an intermediary or an expert do you?

LG: No. The other option is simply to make an appointment with the individual that you want to see or that you want to listen to within the office, find a way to get into their office whether it be an appointment or otherwise, wander in there, sit down with them and ask for a drink. When you ask for the drink, spill the drink and they are likely to get up and get someone else to clean the drink up or get you a towel. Then you have an opportunity to plant a device.

It is really not that difficult to get a device in. It depends on how sophisticated the device is and how well you want to conceal it. An example might be if you want to put a device into a table then you might want a fair amount of time because you might want to take a leg off and bore it out a bit and put the device in. Or you might want to drill a hole in top of a door and insert the device into there then recap the door. There are a number of different ways of concealing the devices but it is just the matter of how much time you have to do it.

PG: Thanks for the tip!

LG: Not a problem.

PG: You can actually have a bit of fun with people who have put bugs in by moving them to another room, can’t you?

LG: Yes. One of the advantages we have is that if we passively detect the device we can move it to another location. So in some instances we will create a secure room, put a couple of lounges in there and a little coffee table so you can have a drink in there. The room will be marked as the bugged room so the company executives can provide misinformation to a competitor or to another government by wandering in there and discussing all sorts of false information they wish to mislead someone with.

PG: So Les can you think of any funny examples of where people have sent some particularly misleading down the wires?

LG: Certainly. An example would be when we have had a foreign country being visited by a representative from another country and we’ve had an embassy where we’ve used that embassy to stage the arrival time and location of the individual. The individual had already been on the ground for a day however a number of individuals had gone to the airport waiting for this person to arrive and of course they were already here so it was pretty pointless.

PG: I can imagine it would have been, and it would have also enabled various authorities to identify who they were and perhaps keep and eye on them.

LG: That is the one advantage we have. With counter intelligence if you can gather the information on who is monitoring you or what method they are using to monitor you then counter intelligence is all about providing misinformation and blocking relevant information.

PG: I would imagine with most bugs you would need someone within the local range sitting in a van with a tape recorder. Is that right?

LG: No. There are a number of ways of doing it. The more common way at the moment is to use UHF transmitters, particularly burst transmitters, where you are actually recording information, holding it in memory and then bursting it out in a number of milliseconds. That makes it extremely difficult for handheld bug detecting type people to locate the devices.

With that sort of device they might go ahead and put that in and it might then store an amount of data, transmit that data and all you would need to do is have a receiver near by that is voice activated so you don’t have to sit there and monitor it, you can come back each week and obtain the data from it. Alternatively you can actually send it over IP so you could actually transmit it to another location with a receiver and have that receiver then put it onto the IP and send it across the ‘net. You wouldn’t actually need to be nearby.

The other alternative which we are getting a few of is using GSM. You actually have a microphone for example rigged within a building and a silenced GSM mobile phone attached to it. What you would do is dial into that mobile phone to obtain audio so you would be obtaining audio from anywhere in the world with GSM that you could listen to wherever you like.

PG: Just got to ask. With something like a UHF burst transmitter, how would you go about detecting something like that? It would be very hard.

LG: It is traditionally. That is the one advantage we have is that with the equipment we use — our equipment is mostly US manufactured. A burst transmitter is essentially something that is transmitting on intervals and if you can monitor those intervals and record what we call the RF mapping survey, you can detect where your signal strength is strongest and we can isolate the area within a building or within a room that the transmitter is. It takes awhile but eventually gets to the point where you are cornering the transmitter.

PG: Now in addition to bugging what are some other common intelligence gathering techniques that are used on corporate Australia and government departments illegally?

LG: One of the other more common ones would be the use laser microphones. You are actually bouncing a laser off glass gathering vibration from the glass and obtaining audio back from it.

PG: So get heavy curtains?

LG: Curtains are good but also just having thicker glass to start with works, and if you are in a noisy environment it really isn’t that much of a risk. A lot of media hype has been around the use of lasers and lasers obtaining audio from rooms. An example was if I was to go into an area and observe a building at night and I might go to a building opposite and I need to monitor the fifth floor. I get onto an equal floor, hook up my laser, point it directly at the glass, have the laser bounce back, use my receiver, gather the information from the laser and convert it back to audio. I might have crystal clear audio when I do this at 11pm but when I come back to do the monitoring when the meeting is at 10am with vibration on the outside on the glass more then there is on the inside. Hence on the outside there is a lot more background noise. It almost makes it useless in order to obtain audio.

A wildflower garden in suburbiaPhoto: Benjamin Vogt, Monarch Gardens LLC

Habitat loss is a major factor in the decline of insect populations around the world, a trend that one group of researchers has warned could bring about the “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems.” For instance, the monarch butterfly population has fallen 99.4 percent since the 1980s—a precipitous decline that has wildlife conservationists calling for them to be listed as an official endangered species. While the monarch may be the charismatic megafauna of the insect world, other, less photogenic species are believed to be facing the same fate.

That’s where you come in: Even in small amounts, native grasses and wildflowers can provide essential shelter and food for a wide variety of wildlife—especially insects. No matter how much outdoor space you have to work with—whether a big backyard or a teensy window box—there are flowers, shrubs and grasses that you can grow to support a wide range of insect wildlife.

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Conservationists are doing their best to mitigate the impact of development and human habitation on insects and other wildlife in many ways. For example, green corridors are physical spaces created with an eye to supporting wildlife in places short on wilderness—like cities or sprawling suburbia.

But you don’t have to have an entire green roof at your disposal to create a bug-friendly garden.

“Even one aster”—a purple flower related to the daisy—“in early fall, when insects are at their greatest numbers, can make a difference,” says Benjamin Vogt, a garden designer and the author of A New Garden Ethic, a book about bringing our lives back into balance by cultivating more wildness in our built environments. Vogt has also produced online tutorials on gardening for wildlife.

The most important thing is to buy and plant species native to the part of the world in which you live, because those are the plants local insects want and need. Vogt recommends people start by checking Plant Native, an online directory of native plant nurseries organized by state.

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Marni Majorelle, the founder of a green roof design company called Alive Structures and the landscape designer of the Kingsland Wildflowers at Broadway Stages project — a half-acre rooftop garden and wildlife habitat in Brooklyn that’s played host to more than 45,000 arthropods (read: bugs) and 19 species of birds—suggests calling around to local garden centers to see if they carry native plant species—and if they don’t, to urge them to order some.

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Below, more specifics on how to best garden for the bugs in the space you have, depending on what you’re working with:

If you only have a window box, or enough outdoor space for a few small pots

Native annuals—plants that complete their life cycle in just one year—are your best bet for attracting bees, butterflies, and other pollinators in just a small amount of space, says Marjorelle. Pollinators are some of the most important insects vulnerable to habitat loss and pesticides, and even small patches of food and shelter can help combat the effects of fragmentation—when big, contiguous tracts of wilderness are broken into smaller and smaller chunks by development and other intrusions.

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You might have to restock your garden every spring, but buying annuals is also the fastest and easiest way to get a beautiful pollinator garden up and running. And you have the freedom to play around with different plants every year.

Niki Jackson, the manager of the Kingsland Wildflowers project, recommends filling your tiny New York garden with colorful blooms (both annuals and perennials) like bee balm, echinacea, mistflower, and black-eyed Susans, which will all attract bees and butterflies. Majorelle suggests the bright red Phlox drummondii. Small pots or window boxes will need to be watered regularly because the soil isn’t deep enough to retain rainwater, but native plants tend to be more hearty and resilient in their native environments than non-natives.

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If you have space for larger pots on your patio or roof deck

For a truly hands-off garden, you can grow native perennials—plants that will return year after year after year, with little or no maintenance on your part. Asters, the flower Vogt recommended, are one good example.

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More space also means bigger plants, if you so choose.

“Flowering shrubs are wonderful because they’re big and you only have to take care of one instead of many,” says Majorelle. Most are low maintenance, requiring only a little plant food and light pruning; in exchange, some flower twice a year, or flower in the spring and provide brightly colored foliage in the fall. Majorelle recommends fothergilla or even blueberry bushes (you’ll have to plant several if you want to eat some berries yourself).

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If you want your plants to really flourish, Majorelle says you can’t skimp on container size, especially with larger bushes and shrubs. There’s not a hard and fast rule—it will depend on the size and variety of plant—but you could need anywhere between one to three feet of soil. Shallower pots and boxes might not provide enough protection for perennials during the frigid winter months—you want the soil to be deep enough to protect the roots from freezing.

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If you have a small garden

A good go-to plant no matter where you live in the United States is one of the many varieties of milkweed, the flower essential for the propagation and survival of the monarch butterfly.

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“A lot of people think that they have problematic yards because there’s a lot of clay or the soil tends to hold a lot of water,” says Jackson. “But there are varieties of milkweed that love marshy areas, like the tree pits in sidewalks.” For such troublesome backyards, she suggests swamp milkweed, which has lovely dusty pink flowers.

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You can find local milkweed purveyors on the Xerces Society Milkweed Seed Finder, because your local Home Depot isn’t likely to carry them.

“Native grasses can be low maintenance and wonderful, especially used en masse,” says Majorelle. Although once established, these grasses will need virtually no maintenance, the key is getting invasive weeds in your garden under control so they don’t crowd out your native plants.

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The good thing is that the best thing you can do is to not over-water or over-fertilize your native grasses and flowers—they can withstand a little drought, but the weeds will go to town on water and fertilizer if you provide them.

Two varieties of wide-ranging native grasses that Vogt recommends are little bluestem, which is native to most of the United States, except California, Nevada, and Oregon, and sideoats grama, a native grass that ranges from Argentina to southern Canada.

Advertisement A wildflower garden is far superior to a front lawnPhoto: Benjamin Vogt (Monarch Gardens LLC)

Finally, if you have a lawn, of any size

“The less lawn we have the better,” says Vogt. Lawns use up valuable resources like water and demand energy-guzzling maintenance like mowing; they do not provide much-needed habitat to insects or other wildlife; and lawn treatments like pesticides and fertilizer further harm vulnerable pollinators and other bugs.

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“Consider unused lawn areas as good candidates for flower bed conversion—even in dry shade there are tons of native plants that will thrive and provide blooms all season long,” says Vogt.

The basic two steps for getting rid of your lawn and replacing it with a beautiful meadow are: kill the grass; and seed with native flowers and grasses. There are numerous ways to kill a lawn; Vogt recommends renting a sod cutter ($100/day or less from most big hardware stores) and simply tearing it up.

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“I’ve even had success stressing lawn for a year—no water, no fertilizer—then scalping it the next fall, raking up thatch, and over-seeding with a custom flower mix,” Vogt says. “In 2-3 years the lawn will usually be at wit’s end if the mix contains aggressive native flowers and grasses.”

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Majorelle recommends the “Pretty Darn Quick” seed mix, a blend of prairie flowers and grasses that takes a lot of the guesswork out of planting a large area.

However, even with the “pretty darn quick” mix, such a large project requires time and patience—two to three years to see the flowers bloom.

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“If you plant it they will come”

As you may have found with wayward cockroaches that find the reliably full pool of water in the dish drain; or the trail of ants making their way to and from a mysterious sticky spot on your floor, bugs are good at finding food, if it’s provided.

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“If you plant it they will come,” says Jackson. “That’s our experience.” Since completing the Kingsland green roof in 2017, she and her colleagues at New York City Audubon have observed a gradual increase in species, both type and variety, visiting the roof. One way they know the green roof has become a refuge for insects is by collecting them, putting out cups of soapy water and recording the results; the others is because the roof is increasingly visited by birds and bats, drawn there by the number of little buggy appetizers and entrees.

You can use apps like iNaturalist to track the bugs (and their predators) drawn to your garden. The most wonderful thing about planting a pollinator garden to support insects is that those benefits will radiate out through the food web, strengthening the ecosystem from the bottom up. Today, a ladybug and a bee; tomorrow, an eastern phoebe or a northern mockingbird.

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How To Tell if Your House is Bugged

If you are in the process of getting divorced or separated, an executive or scientist for a large company, employed by the government, running for an elected public office, or are simply in the upper income bracket, you may be justified in your fears that your house is bugged. These are all high-risk occupations and situations that could lead to someone wanting to spy on you.

The two most common types of bugs are audio and video – cameras and microphones. Cameras can be installed in walls, ceilings, furniture and appliances. Microphones can be placed just about anywhere. Popular locations are in telephones and underneath lamps, sofas and other pieces of furniture that are not moved often.

Take a quick survey of your house. Does anything seem out of place? Most intruders are not able to replace moved furniture in the exact same position it was in before. Pay attention to the imprints that heavy furniture will leave in carpets and rugs, and if any furniture is touching (or not touching,) a wall when previously it was. Clean smudges on dusty areas are also an indication that something has been moved recently. Small, discolored areas on wall or ceilings may indicate that a pinhole microphone or small camera has been installed. Switch plates for outlets and light switches that are slightly off-kilter or whose screws are in different positions are a surefire sign that they have been removed and possibly bugged. Look for small piles of white powder on floors or walls near furniture. These are shavings of drywall or acoustical ceiling tiles that have been drilled through to plant a bug. These types of shavings can also occur near switch plates that have been removed. Acoustical ceiling tiles that are cracked, ajar or chipped may also be a sign of an intruder. Unexplainable new items in the home are also cause for suspicion, as well as ones given as gifts from salesmen or competitors. That pen, notepad, clock, desk clock, lamp or CD player may be a Trojan horse given so that they can spy on you. Intruders will also sometimes bug existing items such as clocks, exit signs, lamps and smoke detectors. Look out for a small hole or reflective area in the surface or if the item is slightly askew.

Radios, Televisions and Telephones are popular targets for bugs. A telephone bug allows a third party to eavesdrop on your private conversations, and sometimes even use your phone as a microphone to hear everything you do and say, even if the phone is turned off. Strange sounds, interference, and volume changes on your phone, radio or TV can be an indicator of a wiretap or other listening device installed inside. A high pitched squeal, beep or faint tone heard for a fraction of a second after you answer the phone is an indicator of a “slave” device, or a line extender being used on your phone.

Many listening devices operate on or just outside of the FM band. You can check for bugs in your house by turning a handheld FM radio to any and all “quiet” frequencies, then walking around the house. If you hear a high pitched squeal, it is an indicator of a microphone installed somewhere. You can usually pinpoint its location using this method. A small handheld television can also be used in a similar manner to detect bugs by watching for interference near channels 2, 7, 13, 14, 50-60 and 66-68.

If you begin noticing a vehicles sitting near your home for extended periods of time with darkly tinted windows or a back storage area without windows, you could be in the process of being eavesdropped on. Often this vehicle will be an SUV or van with a wire ladder or pipe rack on the top and is able to conceal a person. Often these vehicles will be disguised as service or delivery vehicles.

Finally, the most obvious and surefire way to know you are being bugged, is if the eavesdropper sends you a copy of your private conversations. This is an attempt to terrorize or blackmail the victim and affect them psychologically. This is often seen in cases of divorce, custody battles, criminal cases, and other situations where one side desires to psychologically undermine their opponent.

If you fear that you are the victim of eavesdropping in your home, do not hesitate to ask for help. A licensed private investigator has the knowledge and skill to uncover any bugs in your home and work to discover the culprit. Tim Wilson Investigations is a group of highly trained investigators who have experience with bug detection and protecting victims of eavesdropping.

14 Beneficial Insects for Natural Garden Pest Control

Not all insects are bad pests. There are some insect species referred to as beneficial insects that may provide a long-term sustainable pest control solution by preying on the bugs that do a great deal of damage to your garden and backyard plants.

Beneficial insects are considered a biological control solution, which refers to methods of controlling pests using other living organisms. Here is a list of beneficial insects to consider:

  • Ladybugs
  • Praying Mantis
  • Spiders
  • Ground Beetles
  • Aphid Midges
  • Braconid Wasps
  • Damsel Bugs
  • Green Lacewings
  • Minute Pirate Bugs
  • Soldier Beetles
  • Tachinid Flies
  • Hoverflies

Why Use Beneficial Insects

1. Chemical pesticides – the first and most obvious benefit to using these insects is not having to resort to chemical pesticides. The non-toxic approach allows you to grow plants organically. You won’t have to worry the next time you take a bite out of your home-grown fruit or vegetable.

2. Good bugs – keep in mind that chemical pesticides don’t only wipe out the bad bugs. They are just as deadly to the beneficial insects. This is bad for the long-term maintenance of your garden as there won’t be a population of natural predators to feed on the pests. Pesticide may be effective at wiping out of the first wave of pests, but the same cannot be said for the second wave.

3. Cost saver – beneficial bugs are there to stay if you are able to build an environment for them to thrive in. You might not even have to spend money if the beneficial insects are native to your area.

4. Resistance – a number of insects are starting to show greater resistance to chemical pesticides. According to the Pesticide Action Network, between 500 and 1,000 insect and weed species have developed resistance to pesticide since 1945. There is nothing much a pest can do if it is getting eaten by a predator though.

Before You Introduce Beneficial Insects

As you can see, there are many benefits to introducing the bug predators, but before you do anything, here are some important things to consider.

1. Regulations & permits – you may potentially need a permit if you are importing certain species of insects.

2. Neighbors – have the courtesy to tell and educate your neighbors on introducing beneficial insects. The last thing you want is for your neighbors to be spraying chemical pesticide all over the place, which in turn, could easily have a knock-on effect on your garden. Who knows? Your neighbors may also be willing to share the cost of investing in these beneficial insects too.

3. Optimal environment – make sure the climate and vegetation provides a suitable habitat for the beneficial insects. What’s also important is to make sure there is a low to medium population of the targeted pest in your garden. Otherwise, the insects may leave for an area with a more reliable source of food.

Before we get into the full list of beneficial insects, here is an infographic (you can share for free on your website or blog) that outlines seven beneficial insects for pest control.

14 Beneficial Insects for Pest Control

In no particular order, here are fourteen beneficial insects to consider for natural pest control. You can learn about what they prey on, what habitat they are suited for, plants that attract the beneficial insects, and typical costs.

1. Ladybug

Preys: aphids, whitefly, mites, fleas, Colorado potato beetle
Attracted by: Dill, Dandelion, Fern-leaf Yellow, Basket of Gold, Common Yarrow
Facts: Ladybugs can consume more than 5,000 aphids during their lifetime.

2. Praying Mantis

Preys: wide range including caterpillars, moths, beetles, and crickets
Attracted by: tall grasses and shrubs, cosmos, marigolds, dills
Facts: Mantis can turn their heads 180 degrees to view their surroundings.

3. Spiders

Preys: wide range including bed bugs, aphids, roaches, grasshoppers, mosquitoes, and fruit flies
Attracted by: tall plants for weaving spiders, mulch for predatory spiders
Facts: Most spiders complete their life cycle in one year.

4. Ground Beetles

Preys: slugs, caterpillars, ants, Colorado potato beetles, cutworms
Attracted by: evening primrose, amaranthus, clover
Facts: Ground beetles are typically only active at night.

5. Aphid Midges

Preys: aphids
Attracted by: Dills, plants with plenty of pollen and nectar, source of water
Facts: aphid midges can attack over sixty types of aphid species.

6. Braconid Wasps

Preys: tobacco hornworm, tomato hornworm, caterpillars, aphids
Attracted by: Fern-leaf Yarrow, Common Yarrow, Dill, Lemon Balm, Parsley
Facts: Braconid wasps kills hornworms by laying eggs inside the caterpillar.

7. Damsel Bugs

Preys: caterpillars, mites, aphids, potato beetles, cabbage worms
Attracted by: Caraway, Fennel, Alfalfa, Spearmint, Peter Pan Goldenrod
Facts: damsel bug populations can thrive if you provide them alternative places to hide.

8. Green Lacewings

Preys: aphids, whitefly, leafhopper, mealybugs, caterpillars of pest moths
Attracted by: Dill, Angelica, Golden Marguerite, Coriander, Dandelion
Facts: the larvae does the actual job of getting rid of soft-bodied pests.

9. Minute Pirate Bugs

Preys: spider mites, insect eggs, caterpillars, aphids, thrips
Attracted by: Caraway, Fennel, Alfalfa, Spearmint, Peter Pan Goldenrod
Facts: both immature stages and adults prey on a variety of small insects.

10. Soldier Beetles

Preys: grasshopper eggs, aphids, soft-bodied insects
Attracted by: goldenrod, zinnia, marigold, linden trees
Facts: soldier beetles do not damage plants and are harmless to people.

11. Tachinid Flies

Preys: gypsy moths, Japanese beetles, cutworms, squash bugs
Attracted by: carrots, cilantro, dill, coriander, buckwheat
Facts: Tachinids parasitize pests by laying eggs onto the host or onto nearby foliage.

12. Hoverflies

Preys: aphids, scale insects, caterpillars
Attracted by: Fern-leaf Yarrow, Common Yarrow, Dill, Basket of Gold, Statice
Facts: Hoverfly larvaes feed on pests, while the adult flies feed on pollen.

13. Mealybug Destroyer

Preys: mealybugs (not all species)
Attracted by: fennel, dill, angelica, sunflower, goldenrod
Facts: One mealybug destroyer can eat up to 250 mealybug larvae.

14. Predatory Mites

Preys: spider mites
Attracted by: humid environments like greenhouses and high tunnels
Facts: predatory mites feed on the pollen, and not the plant itself, when prey is unavailable.

Find out which of these beneficial insects work best for your situation and get to work. Remember, biological control methods like using these insects should not be viewed as immediate solutions. In most cases, it may take from a couple of days to a few weeks to see any sort of result. Be patient and make sure you are playing your part by providing a suitable habitat for the beneficial insects to co-exist with your healthy garden.Lad

Sam Choan is the Founder of Organic Lesson. He started this site to share tips on using natural remedies at home when such options are available.

Cultivating backyard butterflies is one thing, but what about willfully inviting wasps into the mix? Bring ’em on, says horticulture expert Clay Wesson. Why? Parasitic wasps prey on insects that often damage crops. Plus, the flowers used to attract wasps, such as marigolds, repel other pests with their odor.

It’s a concept Wesson has put into practice as a consultant for Brooks Wines in Oregon, establishing an insect garden, or insectary, on the biodynamic winery’s grounds. By planting flowers and shrubs that attract beneficial insects, the winery reduces the need to treat pest outbreaks with chemicals.

The garden at Brooks Wines in Willamette Valley, Oregon Courtesy of Clay Wesson

Take aphids, for example: “We have aphids that come after our plants in the spring and early summer when they’re lush and hospitable to aphids. We could use a product to kill the aphids, but nature is not that clean or orderly,” Wesson tells CountryLiving.com.

He recommends accepting some of the damage as inevitable and appreciating the imperfection: “Just because a plant has hole in a leaf doesn’t mean that bug deserves the death sentence.”

Oftentimes, the food chain regulates pest problems without the need for harmful insecticides, some of which have been shown to have an adverse affect on bee reproduction. For example, gardens featuring chamomile, dill, and golden rod bring in lady beetles (or lady bugs), which are natural predators of aphids. Other plants attract lacewings, bees, hover flies, and parasitic wasps — all insects Wesson says “provide their own role in this ecosystem.”

“If gardens have enough beneficial insects, your number-one role is to not kill those guys, but to…take a step back, take your hand off the pesticide spray nozzle, and have those bugs come in and save you money,” says Wesson.

Besides the one at Brooks, some of the most prominent insectaries can be found on the West Coast at wineries like Benziger Family Winery and Winery Sixteen 600, both in Sonoma, and Quintessa Winery in Napa Valley; farms including RobinSong; and San Francisco-based organic landscaping company Homestead Design Collective.

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Bed prep // plant layout on this new #insectary border

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Insectary gardens attract all kinds… @kyle.haraszthy #insectary #biodynamic #organicvineyard #sonomavalleywine

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For gardeners looking to grow their own insectaries at home, Wesson recommends starting with a selection of native plants, which are adapted to your region’s unique growing climate and won’t require as much water once they’re well established.

Some of the plants grown at Brooks to attract beneficial insects include allysum (for syrphids and wasps), dill (for lady beetles and wasps), Russian sage (butterflies), and sunflowers, which also provide a natural winter habitat for insects when seed heads are left intact, according to Wesson.

(For a comprehensive guide, check out Attracting Beneficial Insects to the Garden with Beneficial Flowers at Renee’s Garden.)

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Monday #blooms 😊🌸🌼🌱 #lavender #insectary #happyvines

A post shared by Quintessa (@quintessawinery) on Apr 18, 2016 at 11:46am PDT

Whether you’re into the insectary thing or not, Wesson encourages gardeners to consider not only the aesthetic appeal of flowers but also their varied purposes: How might that plant be useful to insects? Could it look pretty and provide a benefit to wildlife?

“By working with nature and encouraging healthy predator-prey relationships, over time it allows the garden to come into balance, reducing the need for treatments in response to a pest outbreak,” he says.

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