If you're seeking advice on dealing with the critters plaguing your plants, you've come to the right place. The best practice is to walk through your garden each day and give it a careful once-over. Look for pests or evidence of their activity, such as torn, perforated, or discolored leaves. Then use your observations to diagnose the problem; each pest affects plants in a slightly different way and often at particular times in its lifecycle or the plant's stage of development.
To figure out what you're dealing with, you can consult The Bug Book. This resource is accessible to both kids and adults and can be used for home and school gardens, even small-scale farms. It provides color photos of common garden "visitors" in alphabetical order and lists their favorite foods to enable you to easily identify both beneficial and harmful insects (not all bugs are bad; many are predators, which means they'll work for you!). The Bug Book suggests organic remedies for keeping the bad guys under control and gives you tips on how to attract the helpful bugs.
This practice of identifying and moderating harmful insects using methods that minimize ecological impact is called Integrated Pest Management, and you can read more about it here. The aim is not to eliminate all bugs, but to keep the destructive ones in check and preserve biodiversity.
The Bug Book was developed by Southside Community Land Trust with funding from the Healthy Communities Grant Program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the ADDD Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation, a charitable community trust serving the people of Rhode Island. It's available as a free resource online; view it in PDF form by clicking here. To purchase a printed and bound copy, click here to go our online store.
We hope you find the Bug Book helpful; best wishes for a healthy garden!