If you enjoy gardening, you understand how quickly pests can ruin the plants and produce you worked so hard to grow. In this article, we’ll look at which pests are damaging to gardens and what you can do to help prevent them.
7 Common Garden Pests
- Aphids: These are very small, usually green insects that have a pear-shaped body and long antennae. Aphids will suck the sap from a variety of produce and shade trees. Leaves may become wilted and the plant may experience stunted growth. One of the most common annoyances by these garden pests is the sticky, brown residue they leave behind, called honeydew. Honeydew can harbor fungal diseases including Black Sooty Mold and Powdery Mildew.
- Flea Beetles: These pests are small and dark in color. They feed on a variety of plants including potatoes, peppers, lettuce, and cabbage. When they infest a plant, they will leave small, round holes on their leaves — which is especially harmful to younger plants.
- Caterpillars: Caterpillars are the larvae of butterflies and moths. While many people can easily identify these insects, many are unaware that they can be damaging to gardens. In fact, they are arguably the most destructive pests in gardens. They will chew on leaves, eating many times their weight.
- Scales: Scales are very tiny, flat, oval-shaped insects that suck plant juices. These pests are often hard to identify because they look like plant deformities. Scales are also difficult to eliminate because they have a waxy covering on them that protects them from insecticides. Scales may cause your plant leaves to turn yellow or even cause the plant to die.
- Colorado Potato Beetle: Colorado Potato Beetles have oval bodies and are yellow-orange in color with black stripes. These pests overwinter in soil or garden debris during the colder, winter months and resurface in the spring. They feed on the leaves of potatoes, petunias, eggplants, and cherry tomatoes, causing the plants to experience malformation and stunted growth.
- Tarnished Plant Bug: These pests are about a ¼ inch long with green or brown flattened bodies. Tarnished plant bugs overwinter in bark, clover leaves or under garden debris and then emerge in the spring where they will feed on newly developing flowers and vegetables. After a Tarnished plant bug feeds on a plant, it may be left with scars, resulting in wilting or even death.
- Cutworms: Cutworms are the larvae of moths. They often burrow into the soil during the day and become active at night or even during cloudy days where they will cut down plants by munching on their stems at the soil level.
How to Control Garden Pests
Below are some ways you can control common garden pests.
Install Physical Barriers
This can include row covers for the tops of your plants or cardboard barriers wrapped around the base of your plant.
Keep Your Soil Healthy
Healthy soil results in healthy plants. Like people, plants also have an immune system. Healthy, stress-free plants are naturally less appealing to pests. Additionally, healthy plants are able to better defend themselves.
Plant different kinds of plants in different sections of your garden every year. As mentioned above, some pests will overwinter in the soil and emerge later in the spring searching for food. If the plant they feed on has moved, the pest is forced to relocate as well.
Some plants act as a natural insect repellent, which can be beneficial for vegetable gardens. You may want to plant basil if you want to ward off mosquitoes and flies, petunias to deter aphids, and garlic to help prevent spider mites, aphids, and Japanese beetles.
If you’ve tried everything and you still can’t eliminate pests, you may want to contact your local pest control company. They may be able to offer solutions to safely remove pests from your garden without damaging it any further.