Top 7 Bugs and Pests That May Be Ruining Your Garden

There’s no question that insects can be very destructive in the garden, but they play a vital role, too. Most of the plants that we rely on for producing food need insects for pollination. In fact, insects are also a valuable food source for birds and other animals, too.


There are more than a million different species of insects in the world, but less than 1% of them inflict damage on plants. That tells us that most insects are actually beneficial!

Pest control is a challenge for every gardener, no matter what part of the world they’re located in. According to pest control experts at Broadway Exterminating, preventing an infestation is always easier than getting rid of pests once they’ve already taken hold.

You should regularly inspect your garden for signs of pests so that you can catch a minor problem before it becomes a full-blown infestation. You’ll want to make every effort to control pests naturally, without the use of pesticides, because pesticides will kill the beneficial insects, too.

Most of the insects that cause damage to plants fit into one of two categories based on their mouthparts: they either pierce the plant and suck on it, or they chew on it. Knowing which type of pest you’re dealing with can help narrow down exactly what species the bug is and which growth stage the pest is in.

Most bugs go through a dramatic metamorphous as they grow. Some of them will be more damaging to your plants in their larval or juvenile stage, while others do the most damage when they become adults.

#1. Squash Vine Borer


Squash vine borers are caterpillars. They spend their larval stage overwintering in the surface soil and become moths when they reach adulthood. At the caterpillar stage, squash vine borers are very destructive to squash, pumpkins, and other cucurbits. The adult, female moth lays her eggs at the base of the plant stems. When the caterpillars hatch, they bore into the middle of the stem.

The gardener needs to be proactive to keep this pest under control. Inspect your plants daily and remove the pests from the inside of the stem with a razor blade. Then, cover the exposed area with soil to encourage the plant to grow new roots in that spot.

If you have an especially bad infestation, you can begin spraying with neem or pyrethrin as a last resort. You will need to reapply throughout the growing season to keep the pests at bay. Crop rotation is a good way to keep this pest from becoming a repeat issue next year.

#2. Fire Ants


This invasive ant species comes from South America and they are generally more harmful to the gardener than they are to the plants themselves. They usually establish their mounds in the spring and summer after they mate.

Although they generally aren’t a threat to your plants, they can make it very difficult for the person tending them as their bites can be very painful and they are extremely aggressive insects. In order to kill the mound, you must kill the queen deep inside the ground. The most effective treatment is the pesticide called spinosad.

#3. Flea Beetles


These tiny black beetles have brown legs. Their hind legs are larger than their front legs because they use them for jumping. Their preferred food is plants from the Solanaceae family, such as peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes.

They chew little holes in the leaves of your plants, which can allow pathogens to get into the plant and kill it. The best way to manage them is with malathion or carbaryl.

#4. Spider Mites


These tiny mites can be damaging to many different vegetable species, but they often do the most damage when the plants are already stressed from heat or dehydration. They can’t be seen with the naked eye.

To find them, shake your plant over a piece of white paper. If you see tiny, moving black specs, you’ve probably got spider mites sucking the juices out of your plants’ leaves. Spray your plants with insecticidal soap right away.

#5. Squash Bugs


Squash bugs generally only attack members of the cucurbit family. Unfortunately, this is one pest that can do damage in both the juvenile stage and the adult stage.

You may see tiny reddish-brown eggs on the underside of the leaves that are laid in careful rows when this pest is present. Be on the lookout for the eggs and squash them before they hatch to keep these pests under control. If you must, you can also spray them with malathion.

#6. Tobacco and Tomato Hornworms


These caterpillars feed on plants from the Solanaceae family. Hornworms are very large with green bodies and white marks on the sides of their bodies. They are hard to spot because they blend in the plants so well.

Often, the damage they bring to your plants is the first sign of their presence. They can completely defoliate an entire plant in a few hours. Keep a close eye on your plants and pull these pests off whenever you see them; they aren’t hard to catch.

#7. Aphids


These soft-bodied insects suck the juices out of your plants and excrete a substance that encourages the growth of a black, sooty mold. Ladybugs are a natural predator of aphids, so if you have ladybugs around, they’ll do a good job of keeping aphids under control.

You’ll find aphids in groups on the underside of the leaves, and they don’t move around much. Put on some gloves and squash these pests with your hands. A strong stream of water can also be effective at washing them away. For extreme infestations, insecticidal soap can help manage this pest as well.

Identification of the pest is crucial to choosing the most effective treatment. If you choose the wrong treatment, you could end up with little to no results. Always read labels carefully and choose the most environmentally friendly options possible. If you must spray, do it early in the morning or late in the evening when pollinators aren’t as active. For more information on garden pests and their prevention, check out these tips.

About the Author Laura Bennett

Hello, I’m Laura Bennett. I love nature especially when it comes to flowers and different kinds of plants. I started a very small garden behind my house and I named it Humid Garden. So, I created this blog to provide aspiring and inspiring thoughts about gardening for gardeners and anyone who has the intention of keeping a garden.

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