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A Guide To Indentifying Pests In The Garden

Are you frustrated by mysterious holes in your plant leaves, stunted growth, or withering flowers? You might have a pest problem! Identifying the culprit is the first step towards finding a solution, but with so many different types of pests that can attack your garden, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. That's why we've put together a comprehensive guide to the 20 most common plant pests, complete with easy-to-spot identifying factors and natural treatment options. From aphids and whiteflies to caterpillars and stink bugs, our guide will help you quickly and confidently diagnose your pest problem and take action to protect your plants. Say goodbye to frustrating and costly pest damage and hello to a beautiful, healthy garden! Once you have identified the garden pest you may want to check out our Guide To Organic Pest And Disease Control.

Pest: Aphids

Aphids on the underside of a leaf.

Identifying Factors:

Small, pear-shaped insects that cluster on the undersides of leaves and stems, causing wilting, yellowing, and stunted growth.

Suggested Treatment:

Blast with water, handpicking, insecticidal soap, neem oil, release of predatory insects like ladybugs and lacewings.

Pest: Whiteflies

Whitefly on a leaf

Identifying Factors:

Small, moth-like insects that cluster on the undersides of leaves and fly up in a cloud when disturbed, causing yellowing and stunted growth.

Suggested Treatment:

Blast with water, handpicking, insecticidal soap, neem oil, release of predatory insects like Encarsia formosa.

Pest: Thrips

A thrips on a leaf

Identifying Factors:

Tiny, slender insects with fringed wings, feeding on flowers and leaves, causing stippling and silvering of foliage.

Suggested Treatment:

Blast with water, sticky traps, neem oil, insecticidal soap, release of predatory insects like minute pirate bugs.

Pest: Mealybugs

mealybugs and baby on a plant

Identifying Factors:

Small, white, cottony insects that cluster on the undersides of leaves and in leaf axils, feeding on sap, causing yellowing and stunted growth.

Suggested Treatment:

Handpicking, insecticidal soap, neem oil, rubbing alcohol, release of predatory insects like ladybugs and lacewings.

Pest: Spider mites

Identifying Factors:

Tiny, eight-legged mites that spin webs and feed on the undersides of leaves, causing yellowing, stippling, and webbing.

Suggested Treatment:

Blast with water, insecticidal soap, neem oil, release of predatory insects like predatory mites.

Pest: Scale insects

Identifying Factors:

Tiny, immobile insects that attach themselves to stems and leaves, feeding on sap, causing yellowing and stunted growth.

Suggested Treatment:

Handpicking, rubbing alcohol, neem oil, insecticidal soap, release of predatory insects like ladybugs.

Pest: Leafhoppers

Identifying Factors:

Small, wedge-shaped insects that hop when disturbed, feeding on sap and causing yellowing and stunted growth.

Suggested Treatment:

Blast with water, insecticidal soap, neem oil, release of predatory insects like lacewings.

Pest: Caterpillars

Identifying Factors:

Larvae of moths and butterflies that feed on foliage and flowers, causing holes and damage.

Suggested Treatment:

Handpicking, row covers, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), neem oil, insecticidal soap.

Pest: Cutworms

Identifying Factors:

Larvae of moths that feed on stems and roots, causing wilting and damage.

Suggested Treatment:

Handpicking, physical barriers, release of predatory insects like ground beetles.

Pest: Slugs and snails

Identifying Factors:

Slimy, soft-bodied mollusks that feed on foliage and flowers, causing irregular holes.

Suggested Treatment:

Handpicking, barriers, copper tape or mesh, iron phosphate bait, diatomaceous earth, release of predatory snails like Decollate snails.

Pest: Earwigs

Identifying Factors:

Long, slender insects with pinchers at the end of their abdomen, feeding on flowers, leaves, and fruit, causing irregular holes.

Suggested Treatment:

Traps, physical removal, sticky barriers, diatomaceous earth, release of predatory insects like lacewings.

Pest: Beetles

Identifying Factors:

There are several types of beetles that feed on plants, but they are generally characterized by their hard shell and chewing mouthparts.

Suggested Treatment:

Handpicking, use row covers, release of predatory insects like ladybugs or ground beetles, sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of the plant, neem oil.

Pest: Ants

Identifying Factors:

Ants are attracted to sweet, sticky honeydew produced by other insects like aphids, and they will often defend and protect aphids from predators.

Suggested Treatment:

Control the underlying insect problem causing the honeydew, use sticky barriers, sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of the plant, apply cinnamon or cayenne pepper around the base of the plant.

Pest: Grasshoppers

Identifying Factors:

Large, long-legged insects that hop when disturbed, feeding on foliage and flowers, causing ragged holes.

Suggested Treatment:

Physical removal, use row covers, sprinkle garlic or cayenne pepper around the base of the plant.

Pest: Stink bugs

Identifying Factors:

Shield-shaped insects that emit a foul odor when disturbed, feeding on foliage and fruit, causing irregular holes and damage.

Suggested Treatment:

Handpicking, use row covers, release of predatory insects like spined soldier bugs.

Pest: Sawflies

Identifying Factors:

Larvae that resemble caterpillars, but are actually the immature stage of sawflies, feeding on foliage and flowers, causing skeletonizing damage.

Suggested Treatment:

Handpicking, use row covers, insecticidal soap, neem oil.

Pest: Flea beetles

Identifying Factors:

Small, dark beetles that jump when disturbed, feeding on leaves and causing tiny holes.

Suggested Treatment:

Use row covers, handpicking, sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of the plant, neem oil.

Pest: Squash bugs

Identifying Factors:

Shield-shaped insects that feed on the leaves and fruit of squash, pumpkins, and other cucurbits, causing wilting and damage.

Suggested Treatment:

Handpicking, physical barriers, use row covers, release of predatory insects like spined soldier bugs.

Pest: Fungus gnats

Identifying Factors:

Small, black flies that breed in moist soil and feed on the roots of plants, causing stunted growth and yellowing.

Suggested Treatment:

Allow soil to dry out between waterings, use yellow sticky traps, apply beneficial nematodes to the soil.

Pest: Weevils

Identifying Factors:

Small, snout-nosed beetles that feed on foliage and cause notched edges and irregular holes.

Suggested Treatment:

Handpicking, release of predatory insects like parasitic wasps, use row covers.

Conclusion:

Identifying and treating common pests in the garden is an important part of maintaining healthy and productive plants. By being able to recognize the signs of an infestation and taking appropriate action, you can prevent serious damage to your plants and ensure that they thrive.


Remember, prevention is key! Encourage biodiversity in your garden by planting a variety of plants and flowers, and regularly inspect your plants for signs of pests. If you do find an infestation, don't panic. With the natural treatment methods we've provided, you can effectively manage the problem without resorting to harmful chemicals.


We hope this guide has been helpful to you and that you feel more confident in your ability to identify and treat common garden pests. With the right knowledge and tools, you can keep your plants healthy and vibrant, and enjoy a bountiful harvest. Happy gardening!

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