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15 Garden Pests: How To Spot, Prevent, And Get Rid of Them

Garden Pests

Have you ever wondered who else might be feasting on the fruits of your labor? Your well-tended garden might look peaceful and serene, but beneath that tranquility, an intense drama unfolds. Yes, it's an everyday war, a silent standoff between your precious plants and a brigade of unwelcome, often unseen, invaders - the garden pests.

From munching on leaves, sucking out plant sap, to burrowing into your precious fruits, these tiny invaders can cause significant damage. However, there's no need to panic or reach for the strongest pesticide just yet. With a bit of knowledge, a keen eye, and some environmentally friendly tactics, you can protect your garden from these pesky pests. So, without further ado, let's embark on a journey to identify these hidden adversaries and devise strategies to keep your garden pest-free.

15 Common Garden Pests


Garden Pests

Aphids are tiny, sap-sucking pests that are found in nearly every part of the world. They come in various colors, from green to black, pink, and even white. These soft-bodied insects suck sap from plant phloem, leading to yellowing, curling leaves, and stunted growth. Aphids can multiply incredibly rapidly, with females giving live birth to clones without needing to mate.

Aphids are particularly concerning not just for the direct damage they cause, but also because they can transmit harmful plant viruses. Furthermore, they excrete a sugary substance called honeydew, which can attract other pests like ants and lead to the growth of sooty mold.

To manage aphids, gardeners can use a strong water spray to dislodge them from plants, use insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils, or introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings, which are natural aphid predators. It's also advisable to check new plants for aphids before introducing them to your garden.


Garden Pests

Caterpillars, the larvae of moths and butterflies, are voracious eaters, capable of defoliating plants at an alarming rate. Each species tends to have a specific range of host plants they prefer, which could be anything from fruits and vegetables to trees and shrubs.

Caterpillars can be managed by regular inspection of plants and handpicking them off. For larger infestations, one can use a biological control agent like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Bt is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that produces proteins harmful to certain pests, including caterpillars. When ingested, it disrupts their gut, causing them to stop eating and eventually die.

Japanese Beetles:

Garden Pests

Japanese beetles are notorious pests recognized by their shiny, metallic green bodies with copper-colored wings. They are not picky eaters and can feed on a wide range of plants, leaving behind skeletonized leaves and damaged flowers.

Handpicking can be an effective method for controlling small populations, especially if done early in the morning when they are less active. Japanese beetle traps, which use pheromones to lure beetles, can also be used. However, these traps may sometimes attract more beetles to your garden than they catch. Therefore, they should be placed at a distance from the plants you're trying to protect.

Slugs and Snails:

Garden Pests

Slugs and snails are notorious for their love of leafy greens and tender plants. These slimy mollusks are nocturnal and do most of their feeding at night, leaving behind a trail of slime and chewed leaves.

Slugs and snails can be managed by a variety of methods. Handpicking in the evening when they're most active can help. Barriers of diatomaceous earth, crushed eggshells, or copper tape can deter these pests, as they don't like crawling over sharp or irritating substances. Traps filled with beer or yeasty water can also attract and drown slugs and snails.

Spider Mites:

Garden Pests

Spider mites, despite their small size, can cause significant damage to plants by sucking out plant sap. Their feeding can lead to yellow, mottled leaves, and if left unchecked, can cause plant death. They are also known for their webbing, which can cover infested plants.

Spider mite populations can explode in hot, dry conditions and when plants are water-stressed. Regular misting can help deter these pests. Predatory mites can be an effective biological control method. In severe infestations, miticides or insecticidal soaps can be used.


Garden Pests

Whiteflies are small, white, winged insects that feed on plant sap, much like aphids. They are usually found on the undersides of leaves, and a cloud of tiny white insects flying off when disturbed is a typical sign of a whitefly infestation. Their feeding can cause leaf yellowing, wilting, and even plant death. Like aphids, they also excrete honeydew, leading to sooty mold growth.

To manage whiteflies, yellow sticky traps can be placed around plants to catch the adults. Insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils can also be effective in killing all stages of whiteflies. Introducing natural predators, such as ladybugs and lacewings, can also help control whitefly populations.


Garden Pests

Scale insects are small, immobile pests that attach themselves to plant stems, leaves, or fruit. They're named for their scale-like waxy or armored protective covering. Scales suck plant sap, leading to yellowing or curling leaves and can cause overall weakening of the plant.

To control scales, infested branches may be pruned and destroyed. For less severe infestations, they can be physically removed using a soft brush or cloth. Horticultural oil or insecticidal soap can also be effective in suffocating them. Predatory insects such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps can also help control scale populations.


Garden Pests

Thrips are minute insects that cause damage by piercing plant cells and sucking their contents, causing discoloration and deformation of plants. They can also transmit various plant viruses.

Blue sticky traps can be placed around plants to catch and monitor thrip populations. Introducing predatory insects like ladybugs and pirate bugs can aid in thrip control. In severe infestations, insecticidal soaps or spinosad-based pesticides can be used.

Colorado Potato Beetles:

Garden Pests

The Colorado potato beetle, with its distinctive yellow-and-black striped pattern, is a significant pest of potato plants. Both adults and larvae can rapidly defoliate plants, leading to decreased yield or even plant death.

Handpicking beetles and their bright orange egg masses can help control small populations. Crop rotation is also important, as these pests can overwinter in the soil and emerge the next year ready to infest the same crop. Using row covers can provide a physical barrier to protect plants.

Cabbage Worms:

Garden Pests

Cabbage worms are green caterpillars that are particularly fond of plants in the cabbage family. These pests can be devastating, quickly chewing large holes in leaves.

Regular inspection of plants can help detect cabbage worms before they cause severe damage. Handpicking can be effective for small populations. For larger infestations, biological controls like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) can be used, just like for caterpillars.

Squash Bugs:

Garden Pests

Squash bugs and their nymphs suck sap from squash and pumpkin plants, causing wilting and plant death. They can be hard to control due to their habit of hiding under leaves and debris.

Handpicking can help reduce squash bug populations. Using row covers can protect plants, but they must be removed during flowering to allow for pollination. Removing debris from around plants can also eliminate potential hiding spots.


Garden Pests

Grasshoppers are chewing insects that can cause significant damage, especially in large numbers, by chewing large, ragged holes in leaves.

Grasshoppers can be challenging to control due to their mobility. However, encouraging natural predators like birds can help. Row covers can also provide a physical barrier to protect plants. In severe infestations, certain pesticides or the biological control agent Nosema locustae, a grasshopper-specific pathogen, can be used.

Flea Beetles: