Having a garden at home can be advantageous for anyone. Who wouldn’t want to pick their own fresh fruits or vegetables from their own yard? Or perhaps admire and relax in a garden full of beautiful flowers or ornamental plants?
As a gardener, nothing is more infuriating than watching your flora and fauna get eaten and destroyed by little insects that invade and settle in your garden. Even the most seasoned gardeners have to deal with these persistent pests that attack and damage their beautiful greenery.
Although not all insects are harmful, accurately identifying them will be beneficial to you and your garden. You don’t want your hard work tending to your garden to go to waste while these destructive insects make themselves at home with your plants. Also, it’s good to know that there are insects whose presence may be beneficial to your garden. Knowing which insects to remove will surely help you have a successful gardening experience.
Here are seven of the widely known insect pests that may attack your garden:
Among all the known garden pests, aphids are the most famous of them all. These tiny, pear-shaped insects come in shades of green, yellow, red, gray, and black. They are usually found on most fruits, vegetables, flowers, ornamental plants, and even trees.
Although they can’t seriously harm healthy established trees or shrubs, there are plants that can have sensitive reactions to certain species of aphids feeding on them. By feeding on plant sap, these bugs can damage and curl up healthy leaves, as well as deform flowers and fruits. So if you want to keep your plants healthy and attractive, keeping these insects away from your garden is a must.
There are about 5,000 species of aphids in the world, and around 400 of these are found on food and fiber crops, and most of them are known to be a grave threat to agriculture and forestry, as well as a considerable annoyance for gardeners. There are also some species that act as carriers of plant viruses, which can be harmful.
Controlling aphids is a must in gardens. If you search the internet, there are numerous ways suggested by gardeners from across the globe. Some use insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, while others try and use unique methods like spraying cold water or isopropyl alcohol to dislodge aphids from the plants that they’re feeding on.
2. Green Stink Bugs
The green stink bug or green soldier is one of the most common species of stink bugs that can be found on your garden. They are usually seen in orchards, gardens, woodlands, and crop fields. It is a pest of economic importance in a variety of crops and fruits.
Although the nymphs aren’t that damaging to a plant, the adult green stink bugs are. These adult stink bugs can cause cosmetic damage to fruits and vegetables, as well as reduce their quality and yield, so it’s wise that you prioritize removing these green stink bugs from your garden.
Aside from having a stinky odor, these insects also gather in large numbers like aphids, creating a lot of damage to a garden. That’s why removing or controlling this insect in your garden is essential to keeping your garden beautiful and healthy.
There’s a lot of ways to control this pest, and this includes chemical, cultural, and biological options. Some gardeners also use trap crops which lure these bugs to a specific plant, or they use beneficial insects to keep the population of green stink bugs controlled. So try and defeat stink bugs with these tips first before resorting to chemical pesticides.
These crawling critters are the larval stage of butterflies and moths. Although they are essential to pollination, they can also be a huge problem for gardeners primarily because they’re known to be voracious eaters, and many of them are dangerous agricultural pests.
Many species of moth are known for their caterpillar stages because of the damage that they can cause to fruits, vegetables, and other agricultural produce. They usually feed on the leaves, flowers, fruits, and shoots, causing damage from one plant to the next.
Among the species of caterpillars, Cutworms are the most annoying for their habit of attacking a young garden at night. They chew through the stem of a young plant, killing it in the process. There’s also the Armyworm, which is named for their troop-like behavior, grouping together as they eat through all available food sources. Once finished, they march to the nearest available food source, basically destroying any plant in its path.
Caterpillars can be a significant pest problem, especially for gardeners who have leafy plants, which is why controlling them is a huge must. There are simple ways to keep these critters away from your garden. One of the easiest is to pick them off from the plants and kill them. You could also try covering your plants with an insect barrier fabric or perhaps spray them with an appropriate insect control product.
4. Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs
This stink bug is a native from China, Japan, the Korean peninsula, and Taiwan. In 2010 to 2011 in the United States, this insect became a season-long pest and is now scattered in many parts of North America. It also has recently established itself in Europe and South Africa.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug has a “shield” shape like all stink bugs, but it has a broader range of host plants, with over a hundred plant species from vegetable, grain, fruit crops, and ornamental plants. Like all other stink bugs, these insects use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on leaf and fruit tissues, resulting in small discolored areas on leaves and fruits.
When feeding, these bugs gather in large numbers, causing more damage to your garden. Additionally, the word stink bug on its name is not just for show. This bug produces a pungent odor as its defense mechanism meant to prevent itself from being eaten by birds and lizards. However, it can still release its odor by merely touching or moving it.
You can control these stink bugs with some simple preventive measures, such as proper cleaning, sealing off their entry points, repairing leaking pipes to remove moisture zones, or by turning off the lights near your garden because these are insects attracted to light and moisture. These are just some of the things you can do to keep these bugs away before resorting to pesticides.
Whiteflies are insects with soft bodies and wings. They’re related to mealybugs and aphids. They are common because they can be found in most regions, and are so small that you can’t see them unless you get a closer view.
These bugs have a triangular shape, and are half an inch in size. They are usually found in clusters behind the leaves of plants. Whiteflies suck plant juices, which are known as honeydew. If these honeydews are left on leaves, these will cause diseases from fungi.
Failure to remove whiteflies may hamper the photosynthetic process of plants, thus making them look pale, thin, and unhealthy. Check the underside of the leaves of your plants as whiteflies lay their eggs there. You must check the bottom to remove the eggs of whiteflies and prevent them from growing.
It’s not a difficult task to control this pest as they can easily be seen since they are clustered behind the leaves of your plants. Once you see them, just wash them out with a massive flow of water from your watering hose. You can also use soaps made as insecticides. If these two methods fail, then you may use a vacuum.
6. Mealy Bugs
These plant-sucking pests are a problem in greenhouses, gardens, and on indoor plants usually found growing on warm climates. They are wingless insects that appear as white cottony masses on the stems, leaves, and fruits of plants.
Mealy bugs use the long part of their mouth called stylets, inserting it into the plant and sucking out the sap. Although the damage they cause are minor at low pest levels, they can significantly weaken your plants when they come in droves as they curl up the leaves of your plants. Most mealybugs are commonly found on ornamentals, indoor plants, avocados, and fruit plants.
Controlling these pests is relatively easy as there are insecticides that can quickly kill them. However, pesticides can be your last resort, as there are more natural ways to control them. Avoid overwatering and overfertilizing your plants as mealy bugs are attracted to moisture and a high concentration of nitrogen.
A natural way of keeping them at bay is by having beneficial bugs like ladybugs, which serve as natural predators against this insect.
Some of these small insects, colloquially known as hoppers, are plant feeders that suck on plant sap from shrubs, trees, flowering plants, and grass. They are known as hoppers because their hind legs are made for jumping.
These insects do not congregate in large numbers, and usually hop away when you approach a plant they’re feeding on. What you do not see is that these hungry pests leave a toxin as they jump from one plant to another every time they insert their mouthparts. These insects also spread the yellow aster virus if they feed on a plant that is already infected with it.
Like most insect pests, Leafhoppers can easily be prevented by keeping your garden clean of debris, by using floating row covers, or by blasting the nymphs from affected plants with a strong jet of water.
How to Eliminate These Insect Pests
- Create a Balance in Your Garden’s Ecosystem – Not all insects are pests. Some of them are a huge help in protecting your garden. A lot of gardeners or growers recognize the help given by these beneficial insects, as well as the damages caused by bad ones. So carefully identifying which insects are harmful and which are useful is a considerable advantage for gardeners so they can create a balanced ecosystem in their gardens.
Some of these beneficial insects are good in eliminating and controlling pests that do a lot of damage to your plants. Examples of these beneficial insects are ladybugs, which prey on aphids and whiteflies; ground beetles, which eat caterpillars and cutworms; and green lacewings, which love to target leafhoppers and mealy bugs.
Using these beneficial bugs also gives you a huge advantage, because they can prevent you from using chemical pesticides, saving you on costs if you will build a suitable environment for them to live on. Many insects are already immune to some insecticides, so it’s better if other bugs will fight them off.
- Grow insect-fighting plants – Aside from beneficial insects, there are natural ways to prevent garden pests. Some of them are plants that can repel damaging insects that are hard to detect. Examples of these are Marigold, which can repel aphids; thyme keeps whiteflies and some species of caterpillars away. There are also other natural insect-repelling plants that can help you prevent these pests from invading your garden.
- Utilize DIY insecticides – You can use some kitchen remedies like making an anti-insect spray made of garlic, hot-pepper or ginger, which naturally repels most insect pests. Some gardeners also cultivate these plants in their garden to help them fend off mosquitoes and other insects.
- Use synthetic pesticides – If worse comes to worst, you may use synthetic pesticides. These concoctions come in a lot of variety, from killing a single type of insect to numerous ones. Although they are useful in killing pests, it is best to use them with caution as they’re harmful to the plants to humans. Pesticides are commonly poisonous to humans even if you wear protective gear. As much as possible, try to avoid using chemicals as they can stay on the plants, which can poison you if you eat its produce. Be sure to only use chemical cures as a last resort since they are also harmful to the environment.
Take some time to examine your plants. Based on the description above, you now have an idea as to which insects to remove. Your plants need a little bit of your time and attention so they’ll grow healthy. Once they’re fully grown, you’ll then reap the fruits of your labor, either through aesthetic satisfaction or with your stomach being filled by healthy, green leafy vegetables.