Weeds and extreme weather is not the only awful thing you will face as a gardener. A variety of bad garden insects are ready to make you frustrated too.
Some insects may be helpful for your organic garden. Nevertheless, others may turn out to be troublesome critters that bring danger to plants, fruits, and even humans.
The following list will show you some common pests on plants and how to identify them earlier. Furthermore, you may find some information on the natural ways to get these pests out of your garden.
Table of Contents
- 1. Grubs
- 2. Mealybugs
- 3. Spider Mites
- 4. Cucumber Beetles
- 5. Boxelder Bugs
- 6. Whiteflies
- 7. Grasshoppers
- 8. Thrips
- 9. Kissing Bugs
- 10. Stink Bugs
- 11. Aphids
- 12. Caterpillars
- 13. Cabbage Worms
- 14. Scale Insects
- 15. Leaf-Footed Bugs
- 16. Cutworms
- 17. Sawflies
- 18. Ants
- 19. Tarnished Plant Bugs
- 20. Mexican Bean Beetles
- 21. Leafroller Insects
- 22. Harlequin Bugs
- 23. Blister Beetles
- 24. Flea Beetles
- 25. Pill Bugs (Rollie Pollies)
- 26. Leaf Miners
- The Bottom Line
Let’s start with grubs. They are the larvae of diverse garden beetles, including chafers, June beetles, and Japanese beetles.
Hence, if you find a location in your garden that seems spongy, it may hint at the large infestations of grubs.
Grubs feed on the roots of your plants. Thus, you may notice discoloration in lawns and droopy leaves when they are around.
These harmful insects can affect both indoor and outdoor plants. Besides, these small sap-suckers exist around the world, causing stunting, yellowing foliages, and even the death of their hosts.
You can identify these bugs through their appearance which looks like sticky cornmeal. Therefore, to deal with them, the best method is to invite natural pest enemies like ladybird beetles.
Additionally, mealybugs can spread to any houseplant easily.
However, cactus, jade, palms, orchids, coleus, aglaonema, sage, poinsettia, and rosemary are among the most at risk. Read here how to get rid of Mealybugs.
3. Spider Mites
If you find tiny brown or yellow markings on leaves, your plants might have become the target of spider mites.
Also, these arachnids suck juices from plant cells and weaken them. As a result, your plants will gradually appear lifeless.
Spider mites feed on any kind of leaves at random and can spread quickly, so your garden is vulnerable to their attack. Read here to know more how to get rid of spider mites.
4. Cucumber Beetles
You can find either spotted or striped cucumber beetles in your garden. While both of them pose serious damage to your plants, the striped species are more common than the spotted brothers.
The cucumber beetle comes with a yellow body that has black spots or stripes on each wing. Indeed, the adults typically eat up foliages and blooms of flowering plants.
Meanwhile, the larvae consume cucurbit and corn roots. Hence, keeping them at bay is not an option but a must.
5. Boxelder Bugs
As the name suggests, these insects are particularly interested in boxelder trees. Silver maple trees are attractive to them too.
Further, if you have any of these trees, be aware of signs like minor deformities on fruits and leaves.
You can identify boxelder bugs through the notable red marks on their black wings and bodies. Thus, control them earlier to avoid facing these annoying pests every season.
Whiteflies feed on the sap of your plants, causing terrific damage like shriveled and yellowing foliages. They also release honeydew that develops into a black grimy mold.
Invite beneficial insects like green lacewings, minute pirate bugs, and lady beetles to your garden to control whiteflies naturally.
For instance, their infestations are mostly on peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, citrus trees, cabbage families, okras, and citrus trees.
Grasshoppers will chew on the stems, flowers, and leaves of the plants, resulting in the round to ragged holes in the affected location.
The worst part is their ability to eat 16 times their weight every day which can cause all-embracing damage to your plants.
These dangerous insects can feed on a wide variety of plant matter. However, they will prefer grasses, corn, alfalfa, small grains, and clover. Read here to know how to control grasshoppers
Your bed of squash, onions, carrots, garlic, and flowering plants is prone to thrips infestations. These insects will suck the sap of fruits, blossoms, and leaves from greenhouses or outdoor gardens.
The damage they cause includes crinkled leaves and stunted plants. Also, thrips will make their hosts have tiny white patches and silvery speckling.
You can apply a homemade spray containing a mixture of dish soap and water or neem oil to control thrips naturally.
9. Kissing Bugs
Unlike the previous garden insects, kissing bugs are harmful to humans and animals. Likewise, they feed on blood and may promote Chagas disease.
Aside from sucking the blood of their victims, kissing bugs will prey on sweet cherry tomatoes.
You can identify kissing bugs through their cone-shaped head and striped body. The stripes around their body can be red, orange, or yellow.
10. Stink Bugs
Stink bugs cause damage that initiates spoilage and early decomposition. They exist throughout the seasons and will eat up plant saps.
In leafy garden crops, you may discover white or yellow blotches caused by these plant-feeding bugs. If you grow tomatoes or other fruits, their skins may get cloudy spots.
Adult stink bugs typically prefer pecans, peaches, apples, berries, beans, and pepper.
These garden bugs’ appearance is different from one species to another. Aphids may come in white, red, black, green, yellow, gray, brown, and even pink bodies.
Aphids are not picky, so any plant in your garden can be their target. Besides, they are easy to find everywhere and these insects typically hang out in large groups.
They will suck plant juices, causing the foliages to droop. Besides, aphids may stunt plant development.
Figuring out how to get rid of garden insects naturally will be necessary to kill aphids without harming beneficial bugs.
Caterpillars have a soft body with prolegs fixed to their abdomen and six true legs on the thorax. If you discover small black dots of excrement on your plants, those can be caterpillar damage.
Due to their green color that camouflage with the plants, you may find it hard to destroy caterpillars. Then, you can make a DIY repellent spray using essential oils or dish soap to draw them away.
Moreover, these insects will feed on stems and leaves, especially from tobacco, eggplants, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes.
13. Cabbage Worms
During the late summer months, your garden is prone to cabbage infestations. Furthermore, these pests destroy plants by feeding on the leaves.
You will see your plants get shriveling and wilting when getting attacked by cabbage worms. In the early stage, it will not be difficult to eliminate these insects from the garden.
In addition to cabbages, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, beets, broccoli, radishes, and kale are also vulnerable to their attack.
14. Scale Insects
If your plants have yellow shades and their leaves start to drop, they may get infested by scale insects. Therefore, control these pests immediately to prevent your plants from dying.
Scale insects typically attack ornamental shrubs, trees, and greenhouse plants. In the garden, you may see them in different appearances.
The female scale insects have no wings and appear as hard or soft bumps on plants. Meanwhile, the males come with wings and look like little gnats.
15. Leaf-Footed Bugs
Leaf-footed bugs have a leaf-like sparkle on their hind legs and typically do not attack humans. However, they release a foul smell when crushed.
These bad garden insects prefer to feed on pomegranates and tomatoes. Then, you will notice apparent signs of their attack on the fruits and leaves.
After hatching, the larvae will start sucking the sap from leaves, leaving dry patches on the affected locations.
Cutworms are among the harmful bugs in garden soil that destroy plants at ground level. They feed on stems and crawl up until the plant is devoured.
They are active at night and mostly stay on new transplants or seedlings. In addition, cutworms mostly appear throughout May and June.
As general feeders, cutworms can attack a wide range of plants. You may find them feeding on cabbage, beans, asparagus, carrots, peppers, lettuce, potatoes, crucifiers, tomatoes, and corn.
Both the larvae and adults of sawflies can harm your plants’ foliage. The females will utilize their saw-like ovipositor to make holes in leaves where they reproduce.
Different species of sawflies are typically host-specific. For instance, pine sawflies will feed on pine trees while rose sawflies attack roses.
Meanwhile, sawfly larvae mostly feed on shrubs and trees like paperbarks, eucalypts, and bottlebrushes.
These common garden insects can be helpful in the garden. However, ants can be annoying pests when they bother the soil around plant roots.
Besides, ants are the sworn protectors of pesky mealybugs and aphids that can create potential damage to your plants.
Ants may not attack your plants outright. Nevertheless, once you have ant infestations, expect these pests to disrupt the structural integrity of your garden and home.
19. Tarnished Plant Bugs
Tarnished plant bugs not only eat the sap of your plant but also harm it with their digestive juices. Their damage also includes scarred stems and deformed foliages.
These bugs aim for young growth and tend to leave tiny brown stains on plants. In the garden, they will prefer celery, cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli.
Moreover, control tarnished plant bugs organically by concealing your plants with spun poly floating row covers or by placing sticky insect traps around the garden.
20. Mexican Bean Beetles
If you grow snap beans, lima beans, alfalfa, soybeans, and cowpea in the garden, be aware of Mexican bean beetle infestations.
These bad garden bugs look like beneficial ladybugs. However, you should not get fooled since they love to chew on the underside of foliages, leaving a skeletonized appearance.
Consider spraying your plants with a mixture of insecticidal soap to prevent Mexican bean beetles from feeding and reproducing in your garden.
21. Leafroller Insects
Targeting woody plants and fruit trees, leafroller insects can defoliate their hosts and damage the produces.
They refer to the larvae (caterpillars) of particular moths. You will notice rolled foliages that contain these creatures after the adults’ visit.
Thereupon, you can use products containing microbial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis to kill the larvae of leafrollers.
22. Harlequin Bugs
Harlequin bugs like to eat up cruciferous plants like broccoli and cabbage. However, they may also attack okra, squash, tomatoes, and other plant varieties.
These bugs appear like black stink bugs that feature orange or red and deep blue bodies.
They injure their hosts by sucking the fluids. It results in white or yellow blotches on the feeding location and wilted plants.
23. Blister Beetles
Blister beetles are bad garden pests that can be a nightmare for any farmer. These insects will not stop munching on hay, making it difficult for you to keep it in good shape.
The beetles will discharge toxins automatically when they get killed or injured. Once contaminated, the hay can be dangerous for horses and other animals.
They typically come in bright colors with diverse patterns. Likewise, you may notice shades of grown or gray and yellow lines running down their backs.
24. Flea Beetles
These leaf-eating insects can spread disease among your plants, so you need to destroy them as soon as spotting their presence in the garden.
Flea beetles typically target vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers, corn, cabbage, and potatoes.
Despite their small sizes, these beetles are persistent and resilient. While feeling threatened, they will act like fleas and jump high into the air.
25. Pill Bugs (Rollie Pollies)
Rollie Pollies prefer damp locations under plant debris, fallen foliages, or mulch. These terrestrial crustaceans typically feed on dead plants or animal materials.
These insects pose little or even no harm to plants. However, the openings they make around their feeding locations may make your plant prone to fungi or bacteria.
To deal with them, you can spread diatomaceous earth along the edges of your plants or in areas of the basement floor or concrete slab.
26. Leaf Miners
Twisting, winding, and white lines that appear on leaves can be the signs of leaf miners’ infestations. Although these pests cause minor damage, you should not hesitate to take necessary actions to destroy them.
You can simply squeeze the infected leaves to get rid of leaf miners and then eliminate any trace they may make.
Leaf miners typically attack green onion, garlic, peppers, cabbage, beans, and many other plants.
The Bottom Line
Insects can be either helpful or harmful to your garden. Ladybugs, praying mantis, and butterflies are beneficial since they can be natural predators and pollinators.
However, aphids, thrips, whiteflies, and other pests mentioned above are destructive and must be destroyed immediately to keep an organic garden alive.
Consequently, you should not overlook what kind of insects that enter your garden and inspect if they may cause any damage regularly.
Thus, you can get rid of them before they cause further issues.