7 Creepy Crawlies You Want in Your Garden

iStock
iStock

They crawl, slither, fly, wriggle, and squirm into your garden. These little buggers are here to help. Don't kill them—consider them your friends!

1. GROUND BEETLES

There are 40,000 different species in the family Carabidae, 2000 of which live in North America. Rarely flying and often black, these insects have a tough shell to protect them from predators while they're hunting prey themselves: They get rid of garden pests like aphids, flies, maggots, slugs, and other creatures hell-bent on destroying your garden (although some members, such as the genus Zabrus, are classified as pests, especially during droughts).

2. LADYBUGS

Gardeners who have an aphid problem should consider buying ladybugs in bulk. When released correctly (at twilight, into a damp garden filled with pests), these beautiful beetles will settle in and hopefully procreate; when their eggs hatch, the spiny, black-and-orange ladybug larvae will make an all-they-can-eat buffet of pests like mites, scale, and aphids. (Adults will chow down, too, just not as heartily.) The beetles—whose bright colors discourage predators from eating them—are also attracted to gardens by flowers like marigolds and plants such as dill and chives.

3. DAMSEL BUGS

These long-beaked bugs are so great for your garden that experts say you should actively try to attract them. “Herbs such as dill, fennel, lavender, coriander, or chamomile should be planted to attract damsel bugs for shelter and food,” Kelly Allsup, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, said in a university news article. Once in your garden, they'll grab small caterpillars, leaf hoppers, aphids, and beetle larvae with their front legs and use their beaks to suck them dry.

4. GREEN LACEWINGS

As adults, these beautiful insects typically prefer pollen and nectar. But as larvae they're voracious, chowing down on as many as 60 aphids in an hour (which is probably how they earned the nickname "aphid lion"). They also take care of mealy bugs, spider mites, and insect eggs.

5. SPINED SOLDIER BUGS

Many stink bugs cause damage to plants, but these arthropods are your friends: They prey on more than 100 species, including pests like the larvae of cabbage worms, the Mexican bean beetle, and the Colorado potato beetle. In at least one case, a single spined soldier bug devoured 100 army worm larvae over the course of a season. They can be identified by the "spikes" on each shoulder.

6. HOVERFLIES

Don't worry: Though these yellow- and black-banded flies have looks and a diet in common with bees (as adults, they, too, are pollinators that eat pollen and flower nectar), they can't sting you. Hoverfly larvae love to feast on aphids, which they suck dry; a single hoverfly larvae can consume as many as 400 aphids before it becomes an adult. Fun fact: Adult hoverflies are also sometimes known as "sweat bees" because, in dry years, they'll land on people and drink a little of their sweat.

7. EARTHWORMS

A healthy garden starts with a good base, and earthworms will help with that. These invertebrates eat their way through dirt, loosening soil to introduce water and air, which in turn helps roots to grow. (The burrows also help with irrigation and drainage.) The worms remove debris on the surface of gardens—like dead grass—and excrete nutrient-rich castings, which will fertilize your plants.

Learn Travel Blogging, Novel Writing, Editing, and More With This $30 Creative Writing Course Bundle

Centre of Excellence
Centre of Excellence

It seems like everyone is a writer lately, from personal blog posts to lengthy Instagram captions. How can your unique ideas stand out from the clutter? These highly reviewed courses in writing for travel blogs, novel writing, and even self-publishing are currently discounted and will teach you just that. The Ultimate Creative Writing Course Bundle is offering 10 courses for $29.99, which are broken down into 422 bite-sized lessons to make learning manageable and enjoyable.

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Once you perfect your writing, the next challenge is getting that writing seen. While the bundle includes lessons in social media and SEO, it also includes a self-publishing course to take things into your own hands to see your work in bookshops. You’ll learn to keep creative control and royalties with lessons on the basics of production, printing, proofreading, distribution, and marketing efforts. The course bundle also includes lessons in freelance writing that teach how to make a career working from home.

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Take your time perfecting your craft with lifetime access to the 10 courses included in The Ultimate Creative Writing Course Bundle. At the discounted price of $29.99, you’ll have spent more money on the coffee you’re sipping while you write your next novel than the courses themselves.

 

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6 Amazing Facts About Sally Ride

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

You know Sally Ride as the first American woman to travel into space. But here are six things you might not know about the groundbreaking astronaut, who was born on May 26, 1951.

1. Sally Ride proved there is such thing as a stupid question.

When Sally Ride made her first space flight in 1983, she was both the first American woman and the youngest American to make the journey to the final frontier. Both of those distinctions show just how qualified and devoted Ride was to her career, but they also opened her up to a slew of absurd questions from the media.

Journalist Michael Ryan recounted some of the sillier questions that had been posed to Ride in a June 1983 profile for People. Among the highlights:

Q: “Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?”
A: “There’s no evidence of that.”

Q: “Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?”
A: “How come nobody ever asks (a male fellow astronaut) those questions?"

Forget going into space; Ride’s most impressive achievement might have been maintaining her composure in the face of such offensive questions.

2. Had she taken Billie Jean King's advice, Sally Ride might have been a professional tennis player.

When Ride was growing up near Los Angeles, she played more than a little tennis, and she was seriously good at it. She was a nationally ranked juniors player, and by the time she turned 18 in 1969, she was ranked 18th in the whole country. Tennis legend Billie Jean King personally encouraged Ride to turn pro, but she went to Swarthmore instead before eventually transferring to Stanford to finish her undergrad work, a master’s, and a PhD in physics.

King didn’t forget about the young tennis prodigy she had encouraged, though. In 1984 an interviewer playfully asked the tennis star who she’d take to the moon with her, to which King replied, “Tom Selleck, my family, and Sally Ride to get us all back.”

3. Home economics was not Sally Ride's best subject.

After retiring from space flight, Ride became a vocal advocate for math and science education, particularly for girls. In 2001 she founded Sally Ride Science, a San Diego-based company that creates fun and interesting opportunities for elementary and middle school students to learn about math and science.

Though Ride was an iconic female scientist who earned her doctorate in physics, just like so many other youngsters, she did hit some academic road bumps when she was growing up. In a 2006 interview with USA Today, Ride revealed her weakest subject in school: a seventh-grade home economics class that all girls had to take. As Ride put it, "Can you imagine having to cook and eat tuna casserole at 8 a.m.?"

4. Sally Ride had a strong tie to the Challenger.

Ride’s two space flights were aboard the doomed shuttle Challenger, and she was eight months deep into her training program for a third flight aboard the shuttle when it tragically exploded in 1986. Ride learned of that disaster at the worst possible time: she was on a plane when the pilot announced the news.

Ride later told AARP the Magazine that when she heard the midflight announcement, she got out her NASA badge and went to the cockpit so she could listen to radio reports about the fallen shuttle. The disaster meant that Ride wouldn’t make it back into space, but the personal toll was tough to swallow, too. Four of the lost members of Challenger’s crew had been in Ride’s astronaut training class.

5. Sally Ride had no interest in cashing in on her worldwide fame.

A 2003 profile in The New York Times called Ride one of the most famous women on Earth after her two space flights, and it was hard to argue with that statement. Ride could easily have cashed in on the slew of endorsements, movie deals, and ghostwritten book offers that came her way, but she passed on most opportunities to turn a quick buck.

Ride later made a few forays into publishing and endorsements, though. She wrote or co-wrote more than a half-dozen children’s books on scientific themes, including To Space and Back, and in 2009 she appeared in a print ad for Louis Vuitton. Even appearing in an ad wasn’t an effort to pad her bank account, though; the ad featured an Annie Leibovitz photo of Ride with fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell gazing at the moon and stars. According to a spokesperson, all three astronauts donated a “significant portion” of their modeling fees to Al Gore’s Climate Project.

6. Sally Ride was the first openly LGBTQ astronaut.

Ride passed away on July 23, 2012, at the age of 61, following a long (and very private) battle with pancreatic cancer. While Ride's brief marriage to fellow astronaut Steve Hawley was widely known to the public (they were married from 1982 to 1987), it wasn't until her death that Ride's longtime relationship with Tam O'Shaughnessy—a childhood friend and science writer—was made public. Which meant that even in death, Ride was still changing the world, as she is the world's first openly LGBTQ astronaut.