There are many useful books to help amateurs identify insects. Most of these focus on identifying the insect and helping the reader understand how they interact with the environment.
Garden Pests, Diseases & Good Bugs takes a different approach. It just focuses on the insects that you will find in your garden. The goal is to help you figure out which insects are beneficial and which insects will cause issues. This can help you find natural, non-toxic ways to control the pest species.
This book is essential reading if you are a gardener.
How Is The Book Organized?
The book is organized into four main parts:
- Part A: Prelude
- Part B: Beneficial Organisms
- Part C: Pests
- Part D: Diseases, Disorders and Deficiencies
Each part has a brief introduction before diving straight into the insect descriptions. This brevity is useful: it doesn’t overwhelm the reader but still gives them enough information to understand the featured insects. Each part is broken down into multiple chapters organized by themes such as parasites or pollinators.
The species profiles are organized so that one page has photos and one page has text. Unlike other books, a species doesn’t get it’s own dedicated page. This means that there can be multiple species on the one page. In some cases, a species will be introduced on one page but the pictures aren’t provided until the next page.
This can make it difficult for those flipping through the book to find an image of the insect. It does mean extra work, but it’s worth it.
Part B: Beneficial Organisms
This section of the book is dedicated to the good insects in your garden. In these chapters, Denis talks about:
- what the insect looks like
- when and where you are likely to find them
- what pest they target
The chapters are organized into the types of good species. There are individual chapters on parasites, predatory insects, other predators, pollinators and recyclers. The other predator chapter features non-insects such as birds, arachnids and reptiles. The images show the insect at multiple points in it’s life cycle.
I would have liked there to have been more information about attracting the beneficial insects to your garden. However, the book was already pretty lengthy at 464 pages. I use this section to help me identify a specific insect so I can do additional research.
This section forms the bulk of the book. There are over 200 pages just dedicated to pest species.
The species profiles feature the similar information to those featured in the beneficial organisms section. He also covers:
- the plants the insects attack
- symptoms of infection
- how to control them
The accompanying photos were very useful. Images are provided of species at multiple points in its life cycle. Some images also showed the physical evidence that a species had targeted that plant.
The information in each chapter is broken down according to the type of species such as beetle and caterpillar. The specificity of the species profiles does vary. Multiple species are featured. In some cases, the chapter features the specific species. In others, the feature only covers the type of species such as a cup both. This can make it difficult to identify exactly what you’ve found, especially if the specimen doesn’t look like the featured images. However, this guide should help helping you narrow it down to family or genus.
This part was incredibly useful. I got the most out of this section by flipping through to find image of an insect or symptom that looked familiar.
Part D: Diseases, Disorders and Deficiencies
It is important that you correctly identify what is impacting on a plants health so you can take the right action to treat it. In many cases, this is caused by the insects. In others, however, it is caused by tinier lifeforms or something different. This section helps readers identify what is causing any issues.
There are four chapters in this part:
- Bacterial Diseases
- Fungal diseases
- Other plant problems
The fungal disease chapter is the largest at over 50 pages.. For each issue, Crawford discusses the symptoms, the plants on which they occur, the conditions that favour them. He shares about how to prevent and control the disease. He also writes about things that may be confused with a plant disease, such as nutritional deficiencies. These chapters are accompanied with images that show how a diseases presentation may vary.
This part may not be relevant for those who are focusing on identifying bug species, however it is relevant to those who are trying to increase the health of their garden.
Do I recommend it?
This book is highly recommended to any gardener. It will help you learn so much about your garden and help you create a healthier ecosystem.
I wouldn’t recommend it for beginner naturalists. Backyard Insects would be a much more useful book.