Love Bugs

Thu., Jul. 29, 2021

By Margeaux Apple, Plant Recorder

Most of the time I am in the garden, I am focused on the plants. But I have learned to thoroughly enjoy observing the activities of all the insects that crawl, squirm, hop, and buzz all around. Now before I get into this blog I need to disclose a personal truth: I am a recovering insect hater. I mean big ol’ fly-swatting, Deet-spraying, buzz-triggered, panic attack-having, spider-squishing ha-ter. 

But what is life without growth? In the past few years I have made a concerted effort to befriend bugs. Let’s get something straight though. You will not catch me kissing or really touching bugs. I am not that person having a spider crawling on my face for a photo. Absolutely not. We are more… acquaintances at this point. But you can still love an acquaintance.

I am grateful that I have overcome my ick factor because let me tell you something: bugs are cool. I mean unbelievably cool. And unbelievably important to our existence. Insects are crucial to pollination, they are important aerators of the soils, staples in the diets of many songbirds, and they provide countless other services in the ecosystems of the world. So let’s try to love these humble little creatures, let’s try to love bugs.

Here is some guidance on how to move past your fear of bugs and into a bug lovin’ life.

Strategies for the Recovering Bug-Phobic:

Step 1:

Remember, bugs are like us. They can be blissfully unaware of the world around them, which in this case means blissfully unaware of us. They don’t have some personal vendetta against you; they are not out to get us, plotting to sting us, bite us (well ok, maybe some are, but let’s not let a few little pests ruin it for the rest of ‘em). For the most part, they are out here being bugs. That’s all. And if you don’t run up to the party swatting away all crazy-like, then they will generally be chilled out. Pause.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Bugs.

Unpause. Ok moving on to step 2. 

Step 2:

Look. And I mean really look. If a bee is busy pollinating or a spider busy tending to their web, chances are they are not going to try some crazy fire-spitting move to rain down all their bug warfare on you. So here’s your chance. Take a good look at these wrongfully convicted foes. Check out what they’re up to. Look at the detail. The fuzzy behind, the intricate eyes, the impossible beauty. Yes, that’s right. I said beauty. Bugs are gorgeous. So take a look.

Step 3:

Get to know them. Education is crucial for compassion. How can you care about something you don’t know about? Be curious. See a crazy bug? Take a photo, describe it to yourself, marvel at it. There are tools out there for your use. I use iNaturalist, an app where you can upload photos and get suggestions as to what you might be looking at. is another option, an online community of bona fide bug lovers out here IDing bugs through submitted photos. Charming, truly. 

Step 4:

Maybe, and just maybe, when you get to a certain level of comfort, make your house a bug safe zone. Does that mean bugs stay in your house? No, not necessarily. Does this mean you let ants invade your pantry? No, let’s be real here. But does it mean you safely escort the lost bug back outside? Yes. Spiders I let hang out, moths and centipedes I kindly show the door (a cup and sturdy piece of paper generally do the trick), and fruit flies tend to subside when I am more diligent about dirty dishes. I do break this friendly rule for any mosquitoes, ticks, or fleas. Again, let’s be real. Not in my house.

Simple. Right? These are some steps to coexistence with bugs. An appreciation. A… love? Ok, maybe not yet but we’re getting there.

Some fun facts to start you on your bug-lovin’, love-buggin’ journey. These are just little diddies I have picked up that have strummed my interest that may do the same for you:

  • There are about 500 (yes, five HUNDRED) species of bees native to the state of Ohio. Blow your mammalian mind, right?? (source:
  • There are these hilarious little imposter flies who dress like bees but are decidedly flies and I, personally love seeing them buzzing around the garden. A predator is going to think twice if you look like you carry a mean sting. An incognito little pollinator out here trying not to get got. Do you, little fly.
  • There are over 45,000 known species of spiders in the world (source: Natural History magazine, May 2021 issue p. 5). I know. Pause.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Spiders.


  • Based on my own observations, pollinators seem to love plants in the mint family (Lamiaceae). Plant it and they will come. Then begin again at step one.

A couple links to bug info:

Four-toothed mason wasp (Monobia quadridens) on mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum)
Grapevine beetle (Pelidnota punctata) at Cleveland Botanical Garden

The cutest little jumping spider on prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum)
Monarch butterfly larvae on swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Hummingbird moth (Hemaris thysbe) on bee balm (Monarda fistulosa)
Green stinkbug (Chinavia sp.) on a rainy day at Penitentiary Glenn
Margeaux Apple

Margeaux Apple

Plant Recorder

Margeaux is the Plant Recorder for Holden Forests & Gardens. In this position, she works closely with other members of the Collections and Horticulture teams to ensure the quality of the plant collection and the records kept on it. Margeaux began her involvement with HF&G in 2017 as a volunteer in the Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse. Prior to involvement with the institution, Margeaux graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Environment and Natural Resources.


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