INSECTS THAT WILL ATTACK YOUR GARDEN

A productive garden requires good management of insects in your garden. You really need to include frequent inspection of the garden to prevent problems that are in the early stages.The problem is knowing what you are looking for and how to identify those pests that can be causing damage.Pests attack plant roots ,stems,leaves,flowers and fruits. They will attack at any stage of growth from small seedling to fully mature plants.

The pests I am discussing here are those that are most common to plants,flowers,shrubs,and lawns. There are many such damaging insects but this would be a very long web page to go into them all. Descriptions of each bug is provided along with information about sanitation control measures and the use of some generic organic measures to control the pests. We do notinclude any brand names or use of recommended pesticides because of state laws that we maybe unware of which may have made certain pesticides illegal in certain states or areas.Any mention of generic preventive measures goes with a word of caution that the user of such methods are the sole responsibility of the user and not of this web site. You must READ the label of anything you decide to apply.Okay,with that said,we hope you enjoy this page and get rid of those pests.

INSECTS MANAGED AND CONTROLLED

There are many ways to control the infestation of pests.You can rotate the crops in the garden so that you are not growing the same vegetable in the exact same spot every year.I moved my tomatoes because of the hornworm and have not had the problem in a couple of years.You can plow,till,or turn over your soil with a shovel in advance of planting season.This should be accomplished at least thirty days prior to your planting schedule.It is well to remember organic matter in the form of compost. See Lawn Care Tools for Shovel Selection It is wise to make sure every plant you purchase or grow from seed is in a healthy state. Once planted keep the plants fertilized and watered with appropriate amounts.A bit of advice here is not to use too much nitrogen you are inviting the aphids to dinner.You do not have to inspect every plant of a species but randomly check some from each plant species including the bud,the soil and both sides of the leaves at least twice weekly for any signs of pests. Seed Starting for proper care in avoiding pests Larger pests can be removed by hand and destroyed without ever touching a chemical.The pests will sink and drown in a bucket of soapy water. Learn to identify your harmful pests from the beneficial ones. I hope the pictures below will assist you in that endeavor.Insecticides as well as organic sprays should be carefully selected to control the pests but remember no insecticide or organic sprays will remove all these pests 100%. As soon as a plant is no longer producing immediately remove it from the garden and do not pull it up and leave it in the garden. When the time has come for your garden to be over,cut and remove all remaining plants and do not use them for mulch. You are only asking for little pests to survive the decomposition and greet you in the spring.The right products can be found at Gardens Alive to fight those pests. Click here for all natural pesticides from Gardens Alive!

PESTS YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING

Aphids are insects

cutworm garden pest

Earwig insect picture

Insects here will be reviewed from left to right.

APHIDS

Aphids or plant lice are common pests which feed on almost all garden crops.These insects transmit viruses and diseases from plant to plant as they feed. They are easily recognized by cornicles(tailpipes)on their abdomen. Aphids have the habit of "clustering" on unopened flower buds,the underside of leaves,and stems.These pests will cause a plant to grow in an abnormal way such as in tomatoes or watermelon leaves looking wilted. Aphids are capable of producing thousands of young and the population can grow to huge numbers in a relative short period of time.Ants feed on the sicky,sweet honeydew as it is called which is excreted by these pests. The honeydew also is food for the fungus known as sooty mold. This fungus will cover the leaves and turn them black.The presence of ants can be an indicator that plant or plants are infected.Aphid populations can many times be controlled by the application of water under pressure from a garden hose. You can also mix a mild soap solution using a tablespoon of detergent to a gallon of water. If insectides are used make sure the spray covers all parts of the plant including the underside of leaves. Gardens Alive have the environmentally safe pesticides for your garden.

Click here for all natural pesticides from Gardens Alive!

cutworm

These caterpillars are gray,brown or black pests that go into a tight curl when disturbed. These little critters are one to one-half inches long,hide in the soil during the day and come out at night to munch on your plants. They will chew your tomato transplants right off at the soil surface. These can be easily controlled without the use of pesticides by taking a few precautions. Look for these pests at the base of your plants. It may require digging a few inches into the soil but you will find them. Dig into the soil each morning and destroy the cutworms. A much easier solution is to protect your young plants by simply placing a newspaper collar around the stem at transplanting time going two inches into the soil and inch above with your collar. A very good method I have used is to construct a raised bed by laying down black plastic roll or landscaping material used in smother weeds. The sides of your raised bed should be constructed out of cedar for long lasting endurance. Then fill with top soil and plant your tomatoes. I have never been bothered since by these pesky caterpillars.

EARWIGS

Earwigs are alarming to gardeners on their first encounter.These insects have a frightful appearance and move at a rapid rate around and under wood left in a pile or other moist dark places.They may release a foul smelling,yellowish brown liquid from their scent glands. They are harmless to humans and animals but can cause serious damage to flowers,vegtables,fruits and other plants. Earwigs cause leaves to have a ragged appearance with numerous small irregular holes. These pests range from light red-brown to black and are easily recognized by their lobster-like pincers on the end of the abdomen. They are active at night and may be found around bright outdoor lights. These insects hide during the day in moist shady places under stones,boards and woodpiles.The creatures will also migrate into your home during hot weather.They are easily killed by residual insecticide treatments. It is best to control them outdoors prior to entering the home by simply reducing the light around doors and windows.It is best to use special sodium vapor yellow lights instead of white,neon or mecury vapor lights.These insects can be trapped outdoors in cardboard boxes by using oatmeal or bran with pencil size entry holes in the sides and bottom and either dump the trapped critters into boiling water or burn them in wrapped newspaper rolls. Review of plant diseases just click here and return to Insects cabbage looper another in many insects

grubs turn to japanese beetles

japanese beetle the ultimate insect

We will again address these pests in this section from left to right.

CABBAGE LOOPERS

These pests are extremely common and feed on many plants. They are particularly fond of cabbage,collards,cauliflower,and broccoli. The cabbage looper is smooth and green with white stripes. The caterpillars move in a looping fashion. The adult moth is a mottled brown with silver or white figure eights on the wings.The loopers are found ingesting older leaves from the underside. You must either shake the plant or turn the leaves over to dislodge these pests. They are easily controlled by hand picking and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water however some people have used kerosene. If a spray is utilized make sure to cover both the upper and lower leaves. A word of caution here loopers are difficult to control with the sprays available to the gardener. It is best to hand pick these pests.If you do have a large infestation of the looper then it is best to consult a professional.

LAWN GRUBS

The grubs that appear in your lawn are generally the larvae of Japanese beetles but can also be June beetles or chafers. They are all capable of the same annoying destruction by making your lawn into a spotty bunch of yellow patches. These can be controlled organically without putting the usual poison on your lawn. Lawns that have a great deal of damage will look yellowish in color and be very spongy when you walk across it. The adult beetles lay the eggs from late June until early August and it takes only two weeks for the little suckers to hatch.If you have just a couple of grubs per suare foot and you have a healthy lawn no worry but if there are large numbers of grubs per square foot then you need some assistance in getting rid of them. This can easily be checked by doing a spot survey of areas deem to be suspect.The use of nematodes are you best organic bet. The use of nematodes requires the soil be kept moist and it is very important to follow the application instructions.An effort should be made to control these insects from mid July to September when they are small. The second best time is March- April when the grubs are again near the surface and a little larger. Sign up for our Gardeners Monthly by clicking here

JAPANESE BEETLES

These pests are the scourge of my garden. They have an impact on so many plants in my garden that it is enough to make you scream. Here is a rundown of the plants these insects attack in my flower garden: hibiscus,purple coneflowers,rose of sharon,walking stick and roses.Here is really the rub the plant which is an herb called Tansy is suppose to be poisonous to these insects will they land and munch as if there was nothing to worry about. I have never had the experience where these insects pick a certain type of plant and eat that plant only. They are all over any of these plants if left uncontrolled. The first thing of course is to control the grubs but when I was an inexperience gardener you certainly are not aware of this avenue of cure. There are the traps which attracts the beetles with a lure and they fall into a bag. I find two things wrong with this method. The first obvious reason is that the lures attract beetles for many hundreds of yards and you get not only your beetles but the neighbors. The sad part of this is not all the beetles end up in the bag and you might have more beetles. The second do not ever place these bags near your favorite plants because again not all the beetles will be caught and your prized plants maybe in jeopardy.I use an insecticidal soap or pick them off into a soapy bucket of water and watch them sink and drown. These insects are very slow moving so this is an easy method. You can purchase an insecticide that will hook to your hose for proper mixing and it is suppose to last up to two months.

Leaf hooper are chewing insects

hornworm a destructive tomato plant insect

mealy bugs still are insects

We will again address these pests from left to right

LEAF HOPPER

Leafhoppers are piercing and sucking pests that attack mostly leafy vegetables like potatoes,spinach,lettuce and sometimes carrot tops.These pests will cause the lettuce to yellow stunting the growth and twisting the leaves.The potato leafhopper will destroy the tissues of the leaves where food is produced and transported to other parts of the plant.The leaves infected in this way will make the leaves turn yellow and roll.Yield loss in potatoes can actually occur at relatively low numbers of these pests.You can monitor aster leafhoppers which attack your carrots and lettuce by using sticky traps positioned above the crop and then use spray insecticides in accordance with the laws of your state. When you have trapped 5-10 leaf hoppers on sticky cards across your garden,it is time to take action.Potatoe leafhoppers can be controlled by application of foliar and soil insecticides as the law will allow in your state.

HORNWORMS

They maybe worms but they are still insects to me.I think that this particular guy is right up there with the Japanese beetle on my most wanted list. These huge green caterpillars with a horn on their back are one of the most scary in the garden.They will eat both the leaves and the tomatoe.They do this with the speed of a launched rocket ship.The horn is harmless it just looks wickedly intimidating. You can actually handpick these caterpillars or pests or whatever you want to call them. Just throw them into a bucket of soapy water and they are gone.You should use gloves for this handpicking unless you like the feel of creepy things on your hands.The not so brave can resort to insecticides to quell this beast.

MEALY BUGS

These pests can be found in the southern United States but all types can be found in greenhouses through out North America. These bugs or insects attack apple,citrus,other fruit trees,avocado,grape,potato and also ornamentals. The adults and nymphs,which are similar to the female,both with a pinkish body and covered with waxy fluff suck plant juices on all parts of the plant. They are particularly hard on new growth.The leaves of plants wither and turn yellow and the fruit drops prematurely. The females lay eggs in a cotton like mass and the eggs hatch in 10 days. The control can be knocking these bugs or pests from the plants with a powerful stream of water or spray with insecticidal soap.

Millipede maybe not an insect but creepy

Colorado potato bugs nasty insects

Spittle bugs are insects

TYPE: MILLIPEDES

We will again address these pests from left to right

The greenhouse millipede is often numerous in a greenhouse setting. I wish I had a greenhouse so I could worry about millipedes. They are often found in potted houseplants and can live outdoors in damp areas. They usually feed on decaying vegetable matter and not normally considered a danger to houseplants. I thought you should know about this creature even though it is not exactly in the pest classification. It is a nuisance by entering buildings and especially basements by becoming an accidential invader or by meandering between potted plants or other moisture laden areas.The control of these unseemingly characters requires the location of the infestation. Millipedes found outside during your summer investigations could have been from hiding in leaves,mulch or window wells. Houseplants if infested may need to be thrown out which is a cruel word in the gardening world. If you wish to save the plant,then you must remove any soil covering mulch or moss and let the potting soil dry out as much as the plant can take between waterings. You can spray with a household insecticide once the soil cracks along the edge of the pot and spray can be administer between the pot and the saucer.Similar methods can be used to rid your greenhouse of these annoying pests but dampness is more prevalent there so you will have to be vigliant. Insects they are not but still interesting little creatures.

COLORADO POTATO BEETLE

These can be classed as pests and do considerable damage by leaf feeding both in the larvae and adult stages.They will however feast on young fruits such as eggplant and tomatoes.The leaf feeding has the greatest impact on potato growth if it should happen two weeks before flowering. Leaf feeding of these insects during the last several weeks before harvesting the crop has little impact on the yield. The eggs are yellowish-orange in color and are found in clumps on the underside of leaves.The adults spend the winter in the soil or under litter in your gardens or fields.These insects begin to raise their little wings in May.Once they have cleared the soil the beetles go for a little stroll in search of a suitable plant to lay their eggs and feed on the leaves. They will fly to find a suitable host if their strolling does not produce a desirable plant.Once the larvae emerge during June these insects feed for 2-4 weeks and then drop to the ground where they turn into adult beetles and crawl above the ground to cause even more damage.In recent years the beetles have become somewhat resistant to chemicals. The weather will govern when you can safely do this but if your potatoes can be planted in early April and given some protection from a late frost in some areas then the beetle damage will occur too late to bother the yield.Potatoes can also be planted late say in mid June and most of the insects will have vacated the area before blossom time.In both cases use a early maturing potatoe that will ensure a crop before October.

SPITTLEBUGS

This is another interesting garden pest which is not in the insects class at the beginning of life. The spittlebug arrives at it's name from the almost spite like froth that the nymphs produce.Adults become large black leafhoppers with red stripes that go across the back.The nymphs suck plant juices just like your friendly aphids and remove so much water and carbohydrates that they produce a large amount of fluid. The spittle mass produced in this way protects the nymphs from drying and predators.These little green nymphs before becoming insects do produce minor damage but severe cases can cause stunting and weaken plants or reduce yields.The best way to rid yourself of these spittle spitting garden pests is to use a strong blast with the hose. I have also picked them off the plant as they usually lodge in the "y" of two branches and just pluck them out and squeeze. It sounds disgusting but it works. For more information on plant diseases click here . Sod Webworm a garden pest

Stink Bugs are insects

Thrips are nasty insects

SOD WEBWORMS

We will again address these pests from left to right

Sod webworms start out in the larva stage which is actually a caterpillar but ends up as insects known as a sod webworm moth.You can identify this moth as it is small and white in color and only flys a sort distance when disturbed. If lots of these flying insects are observed in the evening start looking for lawn damage in 10- 14 days.The sod webworm larva feed by clipping off leaf blades close to the soil surface. You will begin to notice irregular brown areas of grass stubble. These insects in their worm stage are very difficult to uncover since they hide in thatch and debris. See lawn care on this web site to get rid of thatch and hopefully these chewing guys will be gone without pesticides.The heaviest damage occurs in early August,however,it has been known to happen as early as June. If you must use a pesticide consult with your local garden shop or your local extension office for pesticide recommendations.

STINKBUGS

These pests are normally a problem of the southern part of the country. It is still wise to know about this pest. There are several species of stinkbugs and they feed on peaches and tomato fruits. They cause a gnarling and distorted look to the fruits. If the fruits do not fall from the tree or a plant as a result of sucking the sap from the fruit, then the area attacked is inhibited from growth in the region punctured. The actual damage area resembles a cat face and this is how you can identify the damage done by these insects. Stinkbugs love to feed on developing seed including trees,shrubs,vines and many cultivated crops. They can also attack the stems and foilage when seeds are not available. The seriousness of the resultant damage depends on how far the chosen plant has developed. The control of these insects includes the elimination of nearby weeds or spray with an approved insecticide.

THRIPS

These insects can be put in the nusiance slot by most gardeners. Thrips are found feeding in and on the blossoms and the young leaves.Their feeding causes leaves to distort curl,spot and generally provide an ugly appearance to the host plant.There is a melon thrip that is causing significant damage to vegetables in south Florida. These insects maybe collected by shaking or striking the infested plant across a piece of white paper. The best method is to use directed water sprays or soapy solutions to control these insects as with aphids.The adults over winter in sod,debris,or cracks in the bark.The adults again using a sucking method leave a silvery speckling or streaks on the leaves. There is another control which can be implemented by the purchase of a tiny bug called a pirate bug. This can be acquired from a garden and pest management supply house and may control the thrips if released over a period of weeks.

See lawn care for control of thatch

whtieflies are insects

WHITEFLIES

These pests are among the worse to control and present a great challenge to gardeners.The whitefly numbers grow exponentially with the severe summer heat wave.Whiteflies are resistant to most pesticides which provides a further challenge. These insects inflict damage on a huge variety of hosts including bedding plants,strawberries,tomatoes and poinsettias.These insects are small and fly-like with white colored wings. The little suckers hide on the underneath side of leaves. Whiteflies feed on the plant juices and in large groups can digest a great deal of nutrients causing its host to pale in color. They also excrete the same crappy honeydew as our friend the aphid attracting black sooty mold fungus. There are two types ofthese insects that you should be worried about one being the greenhouse whitefly which is known to attack over 250 plants and its buddy the better known silverleaf whitefly which attacks well over 500 plants. A combination of cultural control techniques and organic sprays are the best way to keep these insects in check. Whiteflies are attracted to yellow color sticky tapes if hung close to the top of the plant. I find this method a little messy and the sticky tapes need constant attention. The use of some organic sprays is the best method to control these pests and consult with your local garden shop for best results.

The Wide Ranging Yellow Spotted Cucumber Beetle

THE DREADED CUCUMBER BEETLE

There are various species of the cucumber beetle. The one picture here is SPOTTED YELLOW CUCUMBER BEETLE This one has been pictured because their range is throughout the United States. The other species of beetles includes the EASTERN STRIPED CUCUMBER BEETLE,WESTERN STRIPED CUCUMBER BEETLE both are about one-quarter inch long and yellow-green With three evident black stripes that reach from head to tip. There is also the wESTERN SPOTTED CUCUMBER,BANDED CUCUMBER BEETLE. The first is greenish yellow with black spots found only in Arizona,California,Colorado and Oregon. It is numerous and destructive in the southern part of its range. The Banded beetle greenish yellow with a red head along with three greenish blue bands horizontally across the back and a thin green band running down the center of the back.

These destructive insects not only feed on cucumber plants but can also attack hawthorns and dandelions blossoms while waiting for your cucumbers,squash.or melons to pop out of the soil or at the appearance of transplants. The cucumber beetle infects the plants with baterical wilt causing the plant to die. The Larval feasting on roots and the adult feeding on the above ground plant stunts the growth of the plant making most if not all of your cucumbers on the plant inedible even if caught early in the cycle. These destructive pests arrive around June waiting for your plants to achieve a little more maturity. In the southern US and California these beetles have the ability to winter over and will severely stun young plants by their feeding on the stems.

HOW TO CONTROL THESE INSECTS

  • Delay crop planting where practical
  • Plant trap crop such as squash in 50/50 ratio found 90 percent attracted to squash
  • Application of botanical insecticides to the trap crop to kill gathering cucumber beetles
  • The application of a yellow mulch around the trap crop will enchance the attraction
  • Maintain a vigil by regularly destroying any diseased plants found in the garden
  • Another trap crop that can be used is a dark Zucchini dearly loved by cucumber beetles

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