How to Tell the Difference Between Good Bugs and Bad Bugs

How to Tell the Difference Between Good Bugs and Bad Bugs

How to Tell the Difference Between Good Bugs and Bad Bugs

Your first instinct when coming across an insect is to kill them, especially when you are squeamish around bugs. However, not all insects are bad. While there is some destructive creepy crawlies that need to be controlled, about 97% of all insect species are harmless. Some of these friendly bugs are quite beneficial, especially in your prized garden and yard.  

Only 3% of the insects can be a nuisance. Beneficial insects play a key role in balancing the ecosystem. More than 75% of flowering plants and an equal number of crops rely on pollen distribution carried out by mobile creatures. Insects make the majority of these creatures; they are an integral part of plant pollination.

Insects also aerate the soil, break down decaying materials and restore them to the earth, and provide food for wildlife. Some insects, such as ladybirds, consume dangerous pests, which helps to maintain the balance of the environment. It is best to know your insects, so you can take the appropriate measures to control the bad ones accordingly.

Observe the Insect

Examine the bug closely and take note of what it is doing. If the insect is consuming and inflicting severe damage as a result of its feeding, it is most certainly a pest. You also need to make a note if there is more than one bug present. The presence of a huge number of insects on plants might indicate an infestation of pests. The sooner you confirm this, the sooner you’ll be able to solve the problem.

Take a Photo of the Insect and Compare

If it is feasible, take a photograph of the insect. You can share the photo in public forums, especially the ones that specialize in entomology (study of insects), where experts can confirm whether it is a pest or not. You can also do some research online and compare the photo with the common garden pests. If you have captured and killed a similar insect earlier, search and compare the images on expert websites or apps like BugFinder and iNaturalist.

Know The Types of Good Bugs

To make your gardening efforts fruitful and the greenery at your home thrive, it is imperative to know the types of beneficial insects. There are mainly two types of good bugs; they are predators and parasitoids.


Predatory bugs are beneficial insects that kill and feed on bad bugs. Their larvae often consume more pests than usual. The pests or bad insects usually eat the crops and plants in your garden. As a result, they ruin the treasured flowers and fruits you have grown. Good predator insects in your garden can ward them off.


These friendly insects are much smaller than the hosts they feed on. They behave like parasites, depositing eggs on, in, or around harmful insects. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the harmful bugs, devouring them from the inside out in certain cases.

The Most Common Good Bugs

Here are some of the most common beneficial insects that help make your greenery thrive.


Ladybugs are the most well-known predatory insects on the planet. They are known for devouring aphids. While the alligator-like larvae are not as adorable, they are much hungrier than their adult counterparts. Each day, these growing young insects can consume hundreds of aphids (along with scale, mites, and other minor pests they come across). While purchasing and releasing adult ladybugs is a quick fix, establishing the ideal conditions for a self-sustaining population will be far more beneficial in the long term.

Minute Pirate Bug

Minute pirate bugs are little insects that have black or dark purple with white patterns at the tips of their wings. They are carnivorous and move quickly, despite their small size. Aphids, thrips, and spider mites are among the microscopic insects that pirate bugs eat in the garden. In greenhouses, they are also employed to kill thrips. Each adult pirate bug can eat up to 20 thrips larvae in a single day.

Green Lacewings

With their gossamer wings and delicate green bodies, adult lacewings are incredibly beautiful. The larvae have a distinct feature. Because of their menacing look and ravenous appetites, they are sometimes referred to as “aphid lions.” By the time they reach adulthood, they devour hundreds of aphids. Lacewings prefer to deposit their eggs near aphid colonies to provide a consistent food source for their larvae and nymphs. They also consume cabbage moth caterpillars, as well as any other soft-bodied pest.

Aphid Midge

The aphid midge is a very helpful insect that feeds on aphids. Their larvae devour aphids and can consume up to 65 aphids each day. Adult aphid midges are tiny black flies that are less than an eighth of an inch long. They have the appearance of fungus gnats. Their larvae inject a paralyzing toxin into aphids and then suck their insides.

The Most Common Bad Bugs

Here are some of the most common harmful insects that can ruin your garden, and you need to ward them off.

Tobacco Hornworm

The fruit will be destroyed by tobacco hornworms before it even ripens. They are widespread pests that eat plants like eggplants, pepper plants, and tomatoes. They seem to prefer tomatoes and their ravenous eating allows them to strip a plant’s foliage clean virtually overnight. Their camouflage color makes them difficult to see, but their voracious hunger makes them easily identifiable. Start checking for plenty of black droppings (frass) when you observe bare stems stripped of their leaves, and you will locate the perpetrator.

Stink bugs

Plants are attacked by stink bugs in various ways. They eat flowers and ornamental plants. Peaches, apples, and berries are among the fruits they target. They also eat green peppers, beans, and tomatoes from the garden. Stink Bugs don’t usually attack in huge groups. However, if their population becomes too big, it can seriously harm the garden produce.


If there are enough earwigs in the garden, they can eat and harm lettuce, strawberries, dahlias, and roses. They also infiltrate through cracks and gaps in basements or crawl spaces and then make their way into living rooms. However, they are not venomous and don’t usually bite or sting people.

Japanese Beetle

Because of their feeding habits, Japanese beetles ruin plants, flowers, and grass. Adult beetles eat the tissue of leaves while feeding, leaving behind skeleton-like leaves with just the veins intact. Damage can also be caused by grubs or young Japanese beetles. They feed on the roots of grass and other plants and reside beneath the earth. Patches of grass die as a result of this. If left untreated, whole grass fields can be obliterated.


Not all bugs are bad; before squishing one, identify them. The good ones will always support the healthy growth of your garden.

Click here to read our past blog, Pest Control Experts Seeing an Increase in Rat and Mice Infestation