A quick book review today!
Good Garden Bugs: Everything You Need to Know About Beneficial Predatory Insects – Mary M. Gardiner, Ph.D. (2015, Quarry Books, Massachusetts)
Every gardener needs to be able to identify and understand the role of the most common insects in the garden – a difficult task, to be sure, but it can make a huge impact on the way integrated pest management is practiced. There are a myriad of excellent insect ID books out there – both general and regional in scope – but to my knowledge, Dr. Gardiner’s is the first to specifically cover only beneficial predatory insects. If you are trying to keep your garden as chemical-free as possible, a working knowledge of the insects described in Good Garden Bugs is essential, as they are your allies against any insect pests that might attack your plants. We’re all familiar with the role ladybird beetles play as voracious aphid feeders – but have you thought about how useful insects such as assassin bugs, lacewings, wasps, antlions, and the parasitoid flies are? What about arachnids such as spiders, predatory mites, and scorpions? How about the water beetles that can help protect your pond plants?
Good Garden Bugs is easily accessible to the home gardener: the profiles of each insect offer sufficiently appropriate (not overwhelming) details about identifying features, distribution, and behaviour/habits. The full colour photography is outstanding and is a huge asset to anyone looking to make a positive ID of the six- or eight-legged critter found in the bean plants.
I was particularly interested in the short discussion of the feeding habits of the insects, as the way that they eat (piercing, sucking, etc.) is important to consider when examining their effectiveness as predators. Excellent macro photos illustrate the various mouthparts. There are also good tips on designing an “enemy-friendly” landscape, including a useful list of attractive plants (focussing on natives and those with extrafloral nectaries).
The readability and the stellar photography in Good Garden Bugs make this a must-have resource in any gardener’s library. Next time you go out in the garden and you see an insect you can’t identify, consult Good Garden Bugs. You might just be getting a helping hand in the garden!
(My copy of Good Garden Bugs arrived compliments from the publisher, Quarry Books. This review is 100 percent my honest opinion. Maybe even 110 percent). 🙂
Looks interesting. Just started reading “Bees, Wasps, and Ants” by Eric Grissel and I’m enjoying it.
That looks like an excellent, informative book – I’m going to watch for it at our library.
I have to get that book, I have bugs, loads of them including mosquitoes. I have not been able to plant basil anywhere, pots, in the ground, this year a raised bed my basil plants are devoured by some sort of insect The other herbs are untouched. I would love to know what it is and how to protect my basil.
Japanese beetles are “trying” to destroy my basil plants. They are very hard to get rid of, I drop them in soapy water or wear a glove and squish the bugs between my fingers. I know Ick!
Definitely not the most pleasant task – hopefully you’re winning the fight for your basil plants!
That is really too bad about your basil plants – I hope you figure out what is going after them and are able to stop the attackers. You definitely need some sort of beneficial predator to help out! 🙂
What a brilliant book! Someone will have to write a European version.
Yes, I think that would be a really good idea!
It’s better to use insects instead of insecticides ! This book sounds interesting !
I agree – we should definitely encourage nature to work as it should!
It is a useful book – lots of great info, and the photos are excellent.
I have a small handbook on “good bugs and bad bugs” but I will probably have to add this to my collection. I certainly do not like to kill the good ones so I avoid spraying at any cost. I do not have any problems this year except the japanese beetles on my basil and bean plants. I squish them!!! Thanks for sharing Sheryl…
It’s definitely an excellent guide for anyone interested in a no-spray garden!
Sounds like a complementary book to any that help us grow organically. I’d like to identify the spider that took a nip of my arm through 2 layers of long sleeves. Took weeks to heal. Unless it bothers me, I leave them alone.
Oh my goodness, that’s a serious spider bite! So glad you finally healed up from it.
Yes, I agree – this book would be a very good resource for organic gardeners.