Bugs vs Gardeners: How I Work with Them (Or Not)

Bugs vs Gardeners

Bugs are a critical part of the ecosystem.  They are usually a sign of healthy plant-life and play their roles to keep our flowerbeds happy.  All I want to know is… WHY ARE THEY SO GROSS?!  

kara the gardening fraud

I will admit that for a while I felt like a fraud calling myself a gardener. Remember in my VERY first post, Branching Out… (oh so long ago…like three months ago…), where I reveal my strong childhood aversion to bugs?  That hasn’t changed.  Not by any perceivable amount anyway.

How can I claim to love gardening when I cannot stand a bug touching me or even buzzing by my ear.  Bugs never seemed to irritate my Mom or Nana but I don’t even like a spider in a far corner of my house. Much less running across one while I’m digging in the dirt or bees buzzing around and earthworms! Ew.

A few weeks ago, we had our yearly round of Japanese beetles.  Except to spray my rose bushes, I barely made it outside to do much gardening. Different suggestions on how to control these beetles included manually picking them off of your plants. NO SIR!

Perhaps I am not the only one with this aversion.  Yet, when you read gardening blogs or articles in magazines, all you hear are things like bugs are our friends and embrace nature and ALL it has to give!

No. That’s not me.

reaching out

I set out to see if I could find fellow gardeners who shared my aversion and who may or may not have learned to deal with it.  Here is what I posted to a Facebook group:

Good morning gardeners! I have a somewhat silly question but it comes with a little bit of personal information about me. I LOVE the beauty of gardening and all the dirt and hard work that comes with it! But…

…I HATE bugs!!!!!

I always have! I don’t like flies, spiders, worms, beetles, etc. I don’t like when they land on me or when they buzz right by my ear! And I’m not talking about mosquitoes or other bugs that you can wear repellent for.

That being said, I realize all bugs serve their purpose and I will not kill bugs in their natural habitat. That’s just wrong. If something gets too close while I am working outside, I will adjust myself to work around it. I have only JUST gotten somewhat comfortable working with bees (as opposed to just dropping what I’m doing and leaving if they come within 6 feet of me). Don’t worry, I will never kill a bee – they do their work, I’ll do mine and move to another plant if I need to.

Now for the actual question(s). Am I the only one who has this issue or are there other gardeners who also dislike being around bugs? And how do you deal with it?

BUGS VS GARDENERS: the response

The feedback I received was a little surprising.  In total there were 30 decisive responses (not many but enough to serve my purpose) and they tallied up pretty evenly.

  • 33.33% expressed sharing my sentiments about bugs.
  • In contrast, 30% have very little or no issues working around bugs.
  • 36.67% shared that they once disliked bugs in the garden but have found a way to deal with them.

I won’t lie. That was not what I expected.  Most importantly, there are actually people who enjoy the art of gardening and still do not like bugs!  It’s amazing!


what now?

Would it be easier to learn how to better deal with all of the critters? Yes, which is why a lot of the advice given to me was extremely helpful.

First of all, education is key here. The more we know about what the roles insects play in nature, what is actually harmful, and what isn’t, the less we might be bothered by them.

I am far from that mindset but I will get there…maybe…


To wrap things up, there is power in numbers and it is always nice to know that someone else shares or has shared your issues.  It’s even better to know that some have worked through them. I guess my journey to lovin’ bugs starts with a little bit of book knowledge. We’ll see how this goes.

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