This may not be my most popular post but here goes:
We need to change the way we view bugs. They have a job and it is important that we let them do it.
Plants need proper amounts of minerals, sun, water and other situational conditions to thrive. If any of these are off, the plant becomes weak. Weakness could be from too much shade, sunburn, lack of calcium, too much water around the roots, soil that is compressed, and a hundred other things.
Weak plants are damaged. Sometimes you can see the damage (yellowing, curled tips, spots, disfigured flowers or fruit, etc). Sometimes the plant may look fine but inside it is suffering from an imbalance.
Weak plants make weak seed. This is a danger to the seed bank (Nature) which wants to preserve only the strongest seeds so all future plants start out healthy. The quality of all these stored seeds is our future.
Nature gets rid of weak plants in a clever way. She invites insects to come in and save the day. Bugs KNOW the difference between healthy plants and unhealthy ones. Bugs eat weak plants, gobbling down anything that has been compromised. Insects do Nature a great favor by disposing of weak plants. When weak plants are removed, only the strongest plants survive all the way to seed-making, guaranteeing that the only seeds in the seed bank are the strong plants.
Afraid bugs will take over? Don’t worry. Nature has an answer for that — BIRDS! Songbirds eat bugs in massive quantities. A bird can eat 300 caterpillars a DAY! Parent birds need to bring their baby nestlings a hundred bugs a day EACH!.
What bugs do birds like to eat? Grasshoppers, beetles, borers, crickets, aphids, whitefly, mosquitoes, ants, leaf-hoppers, larvae, earwigs, spiders, millipedes, stinkbugs, snails, moths and more. Way more.
Next time you see aphids on your roses or whitefly on your tomatoes, thank them for pointing out weakness. The bugs are telling you that the plant was ALREADY WEAK.
Where to go? Enhance the nutrition in your soil (compost, worm habitat, seaweed, proper minerals). Be sure conditions of light and water match the plant’s needs. To encourage healthy plants, test your soil, plant only in conditions appropriate to the plant, plant more native plants that already know the territory.
We ought to be praising insects for all the work they do keeping tabs on weak plants that need to be disposed of. Let’s encourage bugs to do their job.
I want there to be enough insects for birds who need all that bug protein to be strong and healthy. Let’s imagine bugs as valued workers in the garden and be aware of how important they are. Let the insects tell you where the weakest lettuces are and then set those aside as bug food.
Bug tolerance is a quality to be valued as we get back in balance with our environment. I predict that gardeners of the future will understand the value of insects and make spaces that are beneficial to bugs.
P.S. Two more tips: Don’t use poisons ever, and let snakes do their job as slug-eaters.