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"Kill it! Kill it!" A grotesque gray bug stood on his back four legs in a boxer-like pose. Alyssa screamed again as the monster stalked forward. She backed up directly into my gladiolas, falling on her butt and crushing several crimson flowers.
I stomped one of the horrid creatures. It wouldn't look at my beloved niece like it wanted to eat her again.
"What was that?" My four year old niece looked adorable with smudges of dirt on both cheeks. She had been helping me weed the large flower garden in front of my house. Such mundane chores became almost magical when we did them together. I ceased to feel the heat and the humidity and instead joined her in marveling over the wonder of nature's beautiful show. At least that was what we had been doing, until the ugly monster bug showed up.
"I don't know! Yuck!" I wiped the gray-green goo off the bottom of my shoe. The strange looking bug had to have been dangerous. No telling how many of my tender, pretty, helpless flowers it had snacked on.
I was new to the gardening thing. The past winter, I had moved from a large concrete apartment building to a five acre plot of land. At first I was overwhelmed, but then I decided to make the most of what I had. I chose to look at the yard like an artist's blank canvas.
I plotted and planned all winter, anxious for Spring to arrive. Then I planted all Spring, spending over three hundred dollars on seeds, plants, manure, compost, everything I could think of the help make my garden beautiful.
After everything was planted, all the mulch laid and the cedar fencing in place (to keep the dogs out), I realized I had forgotten an important part of the process. Bug control.
Holes began to appear in my Gladiola leaves. My roses looked like my dog's chew toy. I had no idea what to do, so I started spraying everything I found at the store that said 'bug control'.
Unfortunately, I soon noticed that the sprays were having the opposite from desired effect. My plants now looked like the lace doily my grandma made me. The grasshoppers began to take over.
Desperate to save my garden, I began to do research. Very few pesticides are available to the public to kill grasshoppers. I found there were several types of bugs, though, that would eat and protect the garden from these pests. I immediately stopped spraying, praying these flower saving insects would return.
That was two weeks ago. Now my garden was being invaded by these horrid creatures! Maybe spray was needed again. I decided to do a little research on these mysterious insects. Maybe I could import some pretty lady bugs or something to kill them.
I carried the plastic bag that contained the rabid looking gray insect at arm's reach into the local gardening shop.
"Oh! I see you've caught an assassin bug!" The friendly, non-descript man walked towards me as he pulled dirty gloves from his hands.
Yep, I thought. Fitting name for the ugly creature. "They are taking over my garden! How can I kill them?"
"Kill them? Why would you want to do that? These ugly guys are a gardener's best friend!"
WHAT?
"They will eat almost any insect that likes to snack on flowers. Just be careful around them, because they will sting you. They won't go out of their way to attack a person, though. No, these guys would much rather eat grasshoppers, aphids, ants, or any other pests to a garden."
OOPPS!
I took my poor captive back to my garden and gingerly released him with a heartfelt apology. I don't know if the majestically ugly bug understood me or not, he was too busy stalking a grasshopper that was snacking on my George Burns rose.
Don't kill the ugly bugs in your garden. Some of them are more helpful than the pretty ones. I now know the Assassin bugs in my garden take care of more pesky, plant eating bugs than all the other bug eaters combined, So, be careful before you spray, or stomp!