Besides the large number of species you can encounter, there are some amazing things that occur in your garden that you may not even notice, or are even aware of. For example, you can plant some broccoli which may attracts aphids. I’ll get into good and bad bugs in a moment. The broccoli is a food source for many species of aphids. In turn the aphids are a food source for ladybugs, however just because you have aphids does not necessarily draw in ladybugs, but you can see from the example the whole “circle of life” thing going on here.
This same example is replicated many times over with various insects and as your garden grows so does this process. This creates a perfect environment to walk and talk with your kids in the garden about not only the importance of what you are growing, but what you are seeing, and what happens on a smaller level. Think of it as a field trip to your backyard.
If you are skilled in the art of insect classification, that is wonderful, it will make the learning curve for your children that much easier, however, if you are like me, and have not memorized all of the one million plus insects in the world or even the few hundred thousand in your neighborhood, then there is a great tool you can use.
This handy tool, called Mac’s Field Guide, is available on Amazon. You will notice there a number of field guides to choose from as there is one for each part of the country. The guide is a large laminated sheet listing good garden bugs on one side and bad garden bugs on the other side. It doesn’t list every single insect you may encounter, it will list the most common ones that you will see in a typical home vegetable garden.
The simple definition of a bad bug is basically an insect that will eat or destroy your crops while a good insect will eat or destroy bad insects, contribute to the pollination process, etc.
When you know and understand the role of the insect you are looking at, it will help improve your home vegetable garden, as you know which insects should be removed and which ones you leave right where they are.
If your kids are anything like mine then you will see how amazed they are at how many insects they can identify from the field guide, and the questions they will ask. This backyard field trip will be educational for you and your children, and to think it’s not far away and you don’t have to pack a lunch.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the monthly Seeds Club.
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