Common Garden Pests: How to Identify and Control Them

12 Min Read

You did everything necessary for yielding good vegetative produce from your garden. At a later point, you see some of the unwelcome guests feeding on your plants.

These little creatures may not seem a big deal at first glance. However, the longer these pests reside on your garden plants, the greater the possibility of diseases and destruction caused by these pests.

Other times, you may not be aware of the future consequences as you failed to identify the potential pest. That’s why this blog will be helpful for you in identifying garden pests and knowing how to get rid of them the first time!

Common Garden Pests:

1. Grasshoppers:

On a regular basis, grasshoppers can easily eat exactly one-half of their body mass. In the early stages of being a nymph to an adult, a grasshopper can take over the stems and leaves of a plant for its consumption. It is said that the nymph grasshoppers will be a headache for you if you don’t get rid of them at this stage.

Crops like wheat and vegetables such as lettuce and beans are the plants that majorly attract the nymphs and adult grasshoppers. Strong smelling and spicy taste of garlic, tomato leaves, peas, and squash are the other sections of plants that are strongly avoided by this pest.

How do grasshoppers look?

Grasshoppers have a stick-like colour and texture. This wooden texture allows them to camouflage with dry leaves, and hence, we’re not able to see it for the first time in our kitchen garden.

These jumping insects have two short antennae and hind legs. Anyhow, one can also confuse this jumping insect with crickets, locusts, and katydids.

Oh yup, grasshoppers are also green in colour, and the nymphs usually are in the developing stage, so they don’t have wings.

How to prevent grasshoppers?

  1. Fabric coverings over the plants can handle these jumping creatures. The material of this fabric covering is very lightweight. If it seems like the grasshoppers are ready to eat even the fabric coverings, then just go for metal window screening.
  2. Another natural garden pest control is by introducing the birds to your garden. Poultry animals such as hens or local wild birds can take care of grasshoppers for you.
  3. Spray some neem oil over the plants to prevent the eggs from laying.


2. Aphids:

One true nightmare for every gardener is finding hundreds of aphids hiding under the leaves. Truly, these crazy green-looking tiny insects live on the liquids of plants that carry the nutritional value.

Due to this, the plants may weaken in the longer run. Another major issue is their ability to reproduce quickly.

How do aphids look?

It seems impossible to look at the aphids with the naked eye. However, you can trace them with the honeydew waste left by the organisms that attract ants. Sometimes, these wastes can turn into fungal growth. However, these organisms range in colour from yellow, black, brown, white, green, peach, pink, and more.

How to prevent aphids?

  1. A mild soap solution is a great, effective measure that can be sprayed onto the leaves. In order to make it a successful process, then you must spray directly onto the affected areas.
  2. Secondly, horticultural oils, or the neem oil as mentioned above, companion planting, and alcohol solutions can be used to treat the issues of aphids.


3. Caterpillars:

Waiting to become a butterfly or a moth, a caterpillar goes over, munching the vegetables it finds in a garden. Now, the thing that can be troubling to know is what kind of caterpillar you are dealing with. There are different kinds of caterpillars that you can happen to encounter in your garden.

How do caterpillars look?

Cabbage loopers, corn earworms, cutworms, hornworms, and armyworms are the most common garden pests when it comes to caterpillars.

The green-looking guys with stripes are cabbage loopers. Corn earworms have different colour variations, such as brown, pink, and black, and again with a stripe on the back, and cutworms can vary diversely. Armyworms have green bodies with yellow stripes, whereas hornworms share the same green body with a horn at the end.

One can find cabbage loopers around the cruciferous crops, whereas the corn earworms munch leaves, flowers, and buds. The hornworms can be wildly obsessed with the tomato leaves and eggplants. The larvae of armyworms will generally eat grass, but the adults don’t. Plant nectar is the target nutrition for the adults. Cutworms can rely on a broad category of vegetables, such as celery, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, beans, asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, and more.

How do we prevent caterpillars?

  1. Directly pluck them from your plants and put them in a soap solution.
  2. Using a DIY tool such as a cardboard box that caught the eggs or the larvae.
  3. Let other animals, such as beneficial insects or birds, feed on these larvae to get rid of them.


4. Mealy Bugs:

Mealybugs are quite similar to aphids because both of these pests leave honeydew as a form of waste. You can get notified of its presence when you get to see white cotton candy textures forming around the plant. Mealybugs also don’t leave the plants indoors or outdoors.

How do Mealy Bugs look?

Having a soft, tiny body, an adult mealy bug seems to be covered with this white cotton candy wax. That is usually not the case for the crawlers, meaning the nymphs. Nymphs are yellow and become a player quickly early in their hunger game.

How to prevent mealybugs?

  1. The key thing that strongly attracts this garden pest is high nitrogen levels. So, over-fertilisation can welcome the mealy bugs. Also, don’t overwater your plants!
  2. For heavy infestations, try using the safer insecticidal soap or Botanigard ES to prioritize your last option.
  3. Other garden pest controls are neem oil, rubbing alcohol, and beneficial insects are other ways to combat the bugs.


5. Leaf-miners:

I find the squiggly trail pattern so cool on the leaves. But, it can affect the crop value because of the visibility of the blotches. Leaf miners are generally the larvae of beetles, flies, sawflies, and moths. Between the outer layers, these larvae find their shelter in the leaves.

How do leaf miners look?

A small maggot or caterpillar looking like an insect is not easily noticed by the garden owners. Larvae have a very creamy-yellowish green or green colour. It is worth noting that there are different species of leaf miners. Here, I have mentioned the four common leaf miners that are important to take into account (Spinach leaf miners, citrus leaf miners, American serpentine leaf miners, and vegetable leaf miners).

Spinach leaf-miners: Resembling a carrot and has a head, the entire body is white. Spinach, cucumber, celery, and tomatoes are some of the plants they munch on.

Citrus leaf-miners: These garden pests find their way to the citrus trees. It’s a moth that usually feeds upon the citrus tree, and of course, it is short-lived.

American Serpentine leaf-miners: Tropical and subtropical vegetables are the hotspots for these pests. It mainly appears as a fly, which is black and yellow.

What is Balcony Gardening?

Vegetable leaf-miners: Lastly, with its cylindrical shape and yellow-green body, the larva feasts onions, beets, and lots of vegetables.

How to prevent leaf miners?

As has already been mentioned, the larvae based their shelter on the layers of leaves. Therefore, pesticides can’t be an effective major tool for combating the creature. However, it is possible through IPM (Integrated Pest Management), which includes methods like cultural, biological, and chemical controls.

  1. Cultural methods:

This method is both cost-effective and environment-friendly to work in your garden. It is about keeping a quality check and routinely monitoring the plants to resolve the issues earlier. Cleaning the plants from building up any weeds, tilling the ground, crop rotation, and barriers like decoy crops and row covers can protect the plant from leaf-miners bugs.

  1. Biological methods:

These days, one doesn’t need to rely on natural habitats to fight against the pest. Many urban settings lack the diversity of wildlife in their surroundings. Garden enthusiasts can easily bring a can of beneficial insects from the local breeding nurseries.

  1. Chemical methods:

The chemical procedure to handle the insurgency of these pests is always resorted to as a last option. Furthermore, chemical methods are more expensive and can be toxic to natural habitats. Spinosad and Pyrethrin are the two garden insect chemical sprays that you can use in the evening (since the bees and other animals are not present) over the affected leaves. Spinosad is a target-oriented insect spray, and it won’t kill the beneficial habitat, but Pyrethrin can kill them off.

On the closing note:

Hence, this is the complete guide on how to control the pests and, at the same time, correctly identify the garden pest. The best tip for the gardeners is to get prepared early rather than waiting for the creature to show up. Planning the right garden pest control can effectively impact your vegetables and crops’ growth and production. Moreover, the gardeners aim to restrict the multiplication of the pests.

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