When you put the time and energy into caring for your garden, whether you’re growing flowers, herbs, or vegetables, you don’t want to see your efforts destroyed by insects. The first step to controlling insects is to know what you are dealing with and how to best attack pests without harming your garden. Below is a list of four of the most destructive garden insects that you are likely to encounter, as well as some tips on how to get rid of them.
Aphids are one of the Most Destructive Garden Insects
First on the list of the most destructive garden insects are aphids. Aphids are small insects about the size of a pinhead with long antennae and two tubes projecting from their abdomen. They are found on fruits, vegetables, flowers, ornamentals, and shade trees. Aphids can be white or pink, or they can have a greenish tint. Despite their small size, aphids are highly destructive, sucking sap from plants and causing stunted growth and leaves to drop. These insects also carry viruses which can further damage your plants.
You can take the following steps to get rid of aphids:
- Wash plants with a strong spray of water.
- Remove affected leaves from plants.
- Wash the plants with insecticidal soap or neem oil insecticide.
- Introduce lady beetles into your garden as they are natural predators to aphids.
Another of our most destructive garden insects is the tomato hornworm. These bright green, striped caterpillars have horn-like tails which earned them their names. They live on the foliage of tomato plants but might also attack peppers, potatoes, and eggplant. Their green color helps them blend in with the leaves, and they can be hard to spot. Tomato hornworms become moths in adulthood.
Discover some ways to get rid of tomato hornworms:
- Pick insects off by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water.
- Spray foliage with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis).
- Introduce lady beetles into your garden as they prey on eggs and young caterpillars.
Stink bugs are native to Japan and came to the United States in 1998. Many people know them as a nuisance inside the house, but they can also be one of the most destructive garden insects around. Stink bugs are green and brown, with a shield-like body and leaf-like feet. They feed by piercing the plant with their mouth and sucking the sap, which damages the plant permanently. Stink bugs attack fruit trees, tomatoes, green peppers, ornamental plants, weeds, soybeans, and beans.
Explore the following ways to remove stink bugs from your garden.
- Spray an insecticide on your plants.
- Spray soapy water on plants with a solution of one part water to one part liquid soap.
Topping off our list of the most destructive garden insects are cutworms. Cutworms are pests that are approximately 1 inch long and have gray or black segmented bodies. They are most active at night and will chew through leaves and stems at ground level. Cutworms can destroy vegetable and flower seedlings by hiding beneath leaves or in the top layer of soil.
Combat cutworms with these techniques:
- Keep seedlings indoors or protected until the plants have thicker stems.
- Hand remove curled-up cutworms from the top layer of soil during daytime hours.
- Make a collar from plastic cups or cardboard tubes to protect the base of seedlings.
Despite your best efforts, insects such as Argentine ants may still bother your garden. Contact a professional who can determine what type of insects are causing the damage and employ methods to control infestations.