It’s officially bug season -- the time of year when you look out on your leaves and see big gaps produced by hungry caterpillars. My Brussels sprouts have been nibbled on by cabbage worms and aphids are covering my neighbor’s roses. It’s time to attack! However, this year, because of the honeybees in my back yard, any form of chemical pesticide is out. (Yes, my neighbor agreed to comply – and I agreed to help her with any bug infestations!)

So what is a good gardener to do? I use the not-so-pleasant method of squishing. But before I go off willy-nilly killing anything in site, it’s important to properly identify the bugs. This I learned last night when checking out my plum tree.

Looking up I saw a curled leaf that look like it was nibbled on by something. Then I saw them - several bugs about ¼" long with long thoraxes and legs and black and red all over their spikey bodies. I had my fingers ready to pounce when I remembered my training from Master Gardener School – identify first before randomly eradicating bugs. So I took these photos and found my bug book.

Thank goodness I didn’t squash these little gems! The plum tree is fortunate enough to be the host of several lady bug larvae. Lady bugs eat aphids! My neighbor will be happy! We won’t have to spray her roses with soap water after every rain shower. Hopefully, the lady bugs will be enjoying a feast of clear green aphids and fresh rain water.

But this should not stop anyone from continually checking for other bugs. Japanese Beetles are just about to emerge. The larvae live in moist grass, and once the beetles emerge, they eat just about everything in sight. Roses seem to be a favorite. When you are identifying Japanese Beetles, look for an iridescent green body.

The fly fast, so squishing is quite difficult. This is when you use the soapy water bucket method of eradication. Use a bucket with about 3" of soapy water at the bottom. Put the entire stem of infested plant into the bucket. Shake. If the plan goes right, the beetles will plop into the soapy water and not be able to fly off. But, if history proves right… you’ll be shaking and tossing, and shaking and tossing.

Anyone with bug secrets to share?