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). 🙂