Remember the Time When the Mention of Insects Meant Pest Control?


A bug, squash it!!!! Many still think that way, but it is changing.

I was thinking about this very thing this morning. It really was not that long ago where you would Google “Insects in the garden” and you would get nothing but links for pesticide companies.


Ortho Bug B Gon kills 235 different insects according to their advertising, including ants, bees, caterpillars, earwigs, fleas, flies, grasshoppers, hornets, millipedes, mosquitoes, moths, scorpions, stinkbugs, ticks, and yellow Jackets. I am rather surprised they mention bees considering how we gardeners feel about bees. Notice they don’t say butterflies? This type of insecticide does not care if an insect is a pollinator, predator or parasitic insect. All are “‘multiple feet up” after an application.

Blue Dasher-Dragonfly

There still are pesticide companies listed in search, but more and more you will find articles on attracting insects rather than annihilating them.

Now we look at seeing pest insects more as integrated pest management where beneficial insects take charge to have a healthy ecosystem.  Beneficial insects can be bought now too, but releasing purchased insects may rid your yard of naturally occurring “good” insects through competition and predation. A praying mantis is not too picky on what it has for dinner. I am not too keen on buying insects.


The funny thing about insects in general is that we may deem some as bad bugs, the truth is without the bad bugs the good bugs would not be there lapping them up. The birds would not be there either at nesting time. Some sites list the ten best beneficial insects, but really even destructive insects have their place. They make great eats for many other creatures.


I especially like those insects that crawl around recycling and eliminating garden waste, making my soil healthy.

No photos of those crawling soil critters because, well, they just make lousy photo subjects. I was just asked why I do not do a post on worms since I know stuff on worms and I said because I can’t get a “nice” photo of a worm. You know, like in the cartoons, where the worm’s head is up smiling into the camera. They just don’t do that! Anyway…

Today, my neighbor had her landscape sprayed, and pesticides rid a garden of many beneficial insects which are necessary for a healthy garden. There is no doubt the insects in my yard are not safe from this application.


Do you know keeping plants close together helps provide a moist, shaded environment for beneficial insects which dehydrate easily? That is a reason why I have a heavily planted garden to have multitudes of insect life.

Delaware Skipper

I plant lots of garden plants just to get my insects. I say my insects because my neighbors that spray don’t get them. But last year I did something new…


I used an “attractant” to lure beneficial insects that I sprayed on the foliage of my plants. I mixed sugar and water and the insects that came were so many it was shocking. I did it for getting photographs, but the garden benefit was a real perk.

Actually, I discovered this when I dropped the hummingbird feeder and it spilled the nectar water, covering my boxwood. Then the light bulb went off! I started spraying it on the dry Monarda. Hummingbirds came back to the dry plants. So many wasps came immediately too and were there to predate insects I preferred were gone. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself. No wasps stung me either, they were happy and high on the sugar.

I am glad attitudes are changing. Insects are much needed for all the chores they do. Not to mention, they make pretty pictures too.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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24 Responses to Remember the Time When the Mention of Insects Meant Pest Control?

  1. Denise says:

    Pretty pictures indeed! I bet you could also make a worm look pretty.

  2. I agree with Denise! Not particularly fond of bugs but your photos are changing my mind! 😉

  3. Worms are helpful, too. I think you’re up to the challenge. Get some exciting photos of worms! (By the way, that photo of the iridescent bug is spectatular!)

  4. eulalia says:

    Beautiful pictures… as always…

  5. Great post and beautiful pictures! The only insecticide I ever use is granules to get rid of red ants,..and I hate doing even that! And after I put it on the hills I cover them up so nothing else can get to them. I, too, have read the labels on the cans, bottles and bags regarding what the sprays, powders and liquids kill. Of course some just say something like “Kills Ants and Wasps”. Well, yes it does. Along with everything else! Thanks for spreading the word.

  6. There is a change in thinking. Here too! Many garden owners try to attract insects nowadays. Either as they heard about their importance with regard to pollination or they learnt about how some of the “nice guys” eat a lot of the “bad guys”. Others love birds and feel they should improve the available food sources to attract more of their flying bird friends. And when thinking about how to redesign or to re-landscape in a natural way ( by planting wild flowers etc., ) it’s only a short way to recognize that arranging insect hotels and still using insecticides is extremely stupid.
    One of my neighbors has a rather sterile garden. Around each of the fews remaining small plants you can find a tremendous amount of pavement flags. Which bug would really love that? But he’s permanently using some really bad sprays and powders. He says because of the snails and other dangerous insects. Dangerous? Mhm. Snails? Without plants? Living on flags?
    He is quite angry about the fact that the whole neighborhood is not willing to support him accordingly …^^

  7. alesiablogs says:

    We are a nation that needs and is making cultural changes about such matters hopefully in the right direction. It would be nice if it were faster.

  8. our gardens have finely tuned ecosystems and it doesn’t take much to upset it. Lovely photos.

  9. Emily Scott says:

    You don’t need to convert me! Sorry to hear your neighbour sprayed their garden – hope they read your blog!

  10. I’m glad things are changing but it is a slow process. I have a neighbor who is trigger happy with the spray. I try to tell the insects not to go over there and stay in our garden. Most of the time they listen. I have been watching the nesting birds and it is amazing how many insects they are finding even though I don’t always see them, especially the caterpillars. I’m going to try your tip on the sugar water and see what results I have.

  11. I can’t believe humans are so arrogant, futile and ignorant to try wiping out all the insects in their gardens. Incredible! An interesting article on a very important topic. Thank you! Please spread this wisdom!

  12. Ah, good trick with the sugar water! I’ll have to try it. I had a major hummingbird feeder failure today, but all it attracted was too many ants! Hopefully, the robins and predatory insects will get an easy, tasty meal from my accident. 😉 I remember many years ago when my neighbor would pull out the spray insecticides and smother his plants at the first sight of a bug. It made me nervous even back then, and I pulled my kids inside during the deluge. I’ve mostly maintained a pesticide/insecticide-free garden for many years now. But you’re right–if the neighbors spray, any insects on your property are at risk. I’m glad the attitudes are changing, though.

  13. Your butterfly pictures are a joy to see – glorious!!

  14. Hi Donna, any thoughts on spiders? This time of year my small yard becomes infested with little spiders and their cobwebs. It’s a constant battle trying to keep a tidy place, clean dry leaves and the usual hot spots just to keep the numbers down. I don’t mind the occasional ones cos they keep the mosquitoes away but in high season my poor plants are filled with cobwebs. I need to look for a few predators I guess.

  15. Jennifer says:

    These shots are so exquisite they take my breath away. If anyone can make gardeners appreciate bees and bugs, you can Donna!

  16. Adrienne says:

    I like the idea of attracting beneficial insects! Can you attract ladybugs? I’d love to find a way to get rid of aphids other than my hands and water.

  17. Indie says:

    When I lived down South, it was just almost taken for granted that you get a ‘bug guy’ to come and spray. It was only when I really got into gardening and started noticing all the wildlife that I realized that this might not be a good thing. Then after our over-zealous bug guy sprayed once, I found several dead frogs around my garden – frogs that I had been so happy to see hopping around when I watered the garden. That settled all doubt in my mind, and we have never sprayed since. It took a couple years to get frogs back in our garden after that fateful day. Makes me sad that I was so ignorant of the environment around me, like so many people still are today. I am glad that there has now been a lot more press and education about this issue, and hopefully this trend will continue.

  18. Outstanding sharp photos! Thanks.

  19. I love this idea of spraying sugar water on plants! I may try that this summer. Also I agree strongly that we can’t have the good bugs without the bad bugs. Ideally there are enough of both in the garden to maintain a balance. I think I have achieved that more or less in my own garden – I rarely have trouble with pests except for the furry kind – even Japanese beetles do only occasional and very modest damage.

  20. Great pictures! Can you do some woodlice? Or perhaps I should try it 🙂
    I haven’t seen a lot of bees this year. Winter was just so wet here, it may have been too much for many of them.

  21. debsgarden says:

    A great post, after my own heart. Beautiful photos, too!

  22. Sadly in my neighborhood they still are spraying and squashing bugs…

  23. Hannah says:

    I agree about the pesticides, and also about releasing predators like preying mantises. I know they can eat bees, so they are not my friends. But I haven’t seen them in my garden. I hope people will become more aware of the importance of insects and protect them from the neonicotinoids, I don’t know if the plant growers are doing a good job of not using those or not.

  24. I like this post. It made me smile. I will be watching for some of those worms that are posing with their smiling faces. 🙂

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