Bug Hunt: Bugs on the Move

Join The Big Bug Hunt and make sure you’re prepared when your invertebrate foes come to town.

The Big Bug Hunt tracks the movements of all bugs on a national level.
Photo by Getty Images/АнАтолий тушенцов

In a garden, you’re never truly alone. The great outdoors is a shared space, alive with the colors, sounds, and movements of the many creatures that call it home. Out of all these creatures, gardeners are particularly interested in the many species of bugs – some welcome, others less so. The “good” bugs include an army of pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, whose work helps bring the harvest home. Pest predators are also beneficial to have in a healthy garden. The “bad” bugs — at least as far as a gardener is concerned — are the pests that seek to eat crops before we can.

Tracking when bugs appear in your garden may help you predict their movements in the future.
Photo by Adobe Stock/Aleksandr Volkov

“Bug” can mean different things to different people. For our purposes, “bug” includes all the invertebrates found in our gardens — that’s anything without a backbone, whether it’s an insect, spider, worm, or mollusk. Common “bad bugs” tend to get the most attention from gardeners, because knowing where your enemies are and when they’re arriving can mean the difference between a flourishing garden and a patch of half-eaten plants. Maintaining a record of when specific bugs first appear in your garden can form the cornerstone of an effective and natural pest control strategy, and allow you to track their behavioral patterns. With enough experience, you may be able to predict when pests are likely to show up — and be ready with a battle plan.

Nature’s Calendar

Phenology — the study of seasonal changes in plants and animals in relation to weather and climate changes — is the starting point on your journey toward better understanding your garden nemeses, as well as the beneficial bugs that help keep them at manageable levels. For instance, cold-blooded insects are massively influenced by temperature. They typically emerge and spread sooner during a warm spring, and vice versa. By building up an annual record of when you first spot insects, and matching your findings to local weather data, you can infer how temperature may have influenced the bugs’ behavior. The downside to this method is the inevitable time required to either trawl through past weather data or meticulously collect your own.

Many bugs emerge at the same time as a corresponding plant. Plant phenology uses this relationship between specific plants and insects to predict when a certain bug may make an appearance, or when it will go into hiding once again.
Photo by The Big Bug Hunt



Fall 2021!

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