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Gardeners! The time has come for you to know the good, the bad and the harmful ... bugs that is

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They say it takes a thief to catch a thief, and the same holds true for bugs. To catch a bug, sometimes you need another bug.

That’s the philosophy of ornamental entomologist Suzanne Wainwright-Evans. Ms Wainwright-Evans has travelled the world lecturing on plant pest management.

She has been a repeat guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio as well as appeared on Growing a Greener World on PBS.

She is the owner of Buglady Consulting, and will be giving a lecture for Aberfeldy Nurseries, at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, (BUEI), on Friday.

“People have called me the bug lady since high school,” she said. “In middle school I decided I wanted to be an entomologist.

“My earliest memories are of playing in the woods and being fascinated by the bugs I would find. I was so curious and it has stuck with me.”

Her high school guidance counsellor was aghast when she said she wanted to work with creepy crawlies. He warned her sternly that there were no jobs for entomologists out there.

“Thankfully, she ignored his advice, because it proved to be grossly untrue. In the United States there aren’t enough entomologists to fill the positions available.

“I specialise in working with bio controls,” she said. “These are good bugs that eat the bad bugs.”

For example, a pest like the citrus leafminer, which causes citrus leaves to curl and look unsightly, can be controlled with a tiny wasp called Ageniaspis citricola.

The wasp stings the citrus leafminer when it is in the maggot stage and lays its eggs in it.

The wasp is not a bother to people.

“If we have an option with bio control first, I recommend that,” she said. “If not we look at soaps and oils and some of the softer organic products. In some situations we have no choice but to use some pesticides.

“It is, generally, the last resort for commercial growers, because you are talking about millions of dollars worth of plant material. For homeowners almost all problems can be taken care of using organic measures.”

She said all pesticides aren’t bad, and in fact many of us wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the use of pesticides to control insect born diseases such as malaria, equine encephalitis and lyme disease.

However, she does not deal with disease bearing insects. She does a lot of work with aphids, mealy bugs and white flies which can be a real nuisance to many plants in Bermuda.

“I arrive a few days before the lecture,” she said. “That will give me time to get out in the field. I do a lot of insect macrophotography. I use my photographs to educate people about bugs.”

She has done a lot of work in the Bahamas and Grenada and said the cruise ships can be a problem because they can move nuisance bugs from Island to Island, spreading the problem.

“Bermuda has been smart in putting up controls to stop the spread of pests,” she said. “Everyone has aphid issues. The first thing I always teach people is to look to make sure a beneficial is not there already controlling the problem.

“Often times people are spraying and killing the good bugs that control the bad bugs.

“The first thing we do talk about identifying good and bad bugs. That is one of the things I will cover on Friday night is knowing who the good guys are working for you.”

Ms Wainwright-Evans was invited to Bermuda by Julie Greaves who works at Aberfeldy Nurseries. Ms Greaves heard a lecture given by Ms Wainwright-Evans in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on bio controls for tropical foliage. After the lecture they got to talking and Ms Wainwright-Evans was very interested to meet someone from Bermuda as she has a family connection.

“The Wainwrights came from Bermuda to the United States in the early 1700s,” she said. “While I am in Bermuda I’d like to take some time out and research my family history. They were part of the Virginia Trading Company.”

Her presentation will be called ‘Bermuda’s Back Yard Battles, Good Bugs versus Bad’ and will be held at the Bermuda Underwater Institute (BUEI), Tradewinds Auditorium at 6pm. Tickets are $45. Call Aberfeldy on 236-2927 or e-mail julie@aberfeldy.bm for details.

A ladybird bug is seen here eating scale insects a common plant pest.
Leafminer bugs caused this brown trail on this citrus leaf.
The bug lady Suzanne Wainwright-Evans
An oleander caterpillar a pest that feeds on oleander.
Milk weed aphids, a pest.

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Published May 14, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 13, 2013 at 5:55 pm)

Gardeners! The time has come for you to know the good, the bad and the harmful ... bugs that is

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