|The very appearance of an unfamiliar bug on a dearly beloved tree, shrub, or plant is enough to set the alarm bells ringing for prairie gardeners, inspiring such burning questions as: What is it? What does it eat? Is it friend or foe? What can I do about it? Authors Nora Bryan and Ruth Staal answer these questions and more in THE PRAIRIE GARDENER'S BOOK OF BUGS: A GUIDE TO LIVING WITH COMMON GARDEN INSECTS (Fifth House Publishers Ltd.). Written with skill, insight, and humour, their book describes and discusses over a hundred insects, spiders, mites, slugs, and earthworms that frequent prairie gardens. According to the authors, the best solution to most bug sightings is simple—relax! Instead of worrying about bugs, be delighted by them and take the time to learn more about their fascinating ways. Many bugs are beneficial, serving as all-important plant pollinators or voracious predators of "the bad guys." Other bugs are minor foes at worst, causing damage that is unsightly but not life-threatening to plants. Surprisingly, only a handful of bugs cause so much damage that an infestation spells potential death to a plant, thus, justifying the use of a chemical control. THE PRAIRIE GARDENER'S BOOK OF BUGS is divided into two parts. Part I: Living with Bugs comprises six chapters that provide background information on all aspects of prairie garden bugs. Learn about their similarities, differences, and lifecycles; their collective importance to the health of a garden; diagnosing trouble; cultural controls; and the "Pandora's bottle" of pesticides. The discussion on pesticide use is particularly enlightening, giving gardeners the tools to make good choices when it comes to buying and applying chemicals to garden pests.
Part II: Bug Profiles comprises eight chapters that provide detailed descriptions of the insects, spiders, mites, slugs, and earthworms that call prairie gardens home. Beautifully depicted in full-colour drawings by talented illustrator Grace Buzik, the bug entries are grouped by a distinguishing characteristic (i.e. aerialist vs. ground dweller) or by the type of plants they attack (i.e. conifers, deciduous trees, plants, veggies, fruit). Each entry has a "Bug at a Glance" section that summarizes the type of bug, its size, what it looks like, where you find it, when you find it, what it eats, whether it is friend or foe, and what to do about it. This is followed by a more detailed "bug bio" that elaborates on the bug's lifecycle, its habits, and how best to deal with it. About the Authors
Ruth Staal, affectionately known in Calgary as “The Bug Lady,” and Nora Bryan are avid prairie gardeners who constantly enjoy the wonder of watching plants and bugs grow in their gardens. Embracing a live-and-let-live approach, they share a deep respect for the environment and for the small and not-so-small creatures that dwell in it.
Both Ruth and Nora are active and long-time members of the Calgary Horticultural Society. Ruth is a co-author of the bestseller The Calgary Gardener and writes a regular Q&A column for The Calgary Herald. She is also much in demand as the popular “Bug Lady,” answering hundreds of bug questions for the Horticultural Society and the Calgary Zoo.
Nora Bryan, always eager to share her enthusiasm for bug watching, developed the first bug programs for children’s education at the Calgary Zoo. She has written many articles for Calgary Gardening, a CHS members’ publication.