A guide to common pests in your garden

Every gardener will have to face pest issues and therefore, learning how to manage them without using chemical pesticides is essential.

If you are facing pest issues in your vegetable garden, you need to identify the suspects first and then find out the best way to manage them organically. 

To help you in this task, here are the most usual garden pests that you must be aware of.

This guide to common garden pests includes essential details about twenty of the most destructive ones, starting from how to identify them to the plants they may affect, the damages caused by them and finally how to control them. 

These preventive tips will surely solve your problem and help you to grow a healthy, productive garden.

Garden Pests

Table of Contents

Aphids

Appearance

Aphids are very common in UK gardens. Though they have very tiny and soft pear-shaped bodies, the harm they cause can significantly impact plant growth. Aphids have hundreds of species and the most common are greenflies or blackflies. Equally common are the ones with orange, brown or pink colour. They are likely to cluster on the stem of soft shoots creating a sticky honeydew. Or, if you spot ants running up and down the stems, it can signify that the ants have farmed aphids.

Plants Affected

Aphids are attracted to new shoots of vegetable plants. Usually, they affect tomatoes, lettuce, kale and cabbage plants to a great extent.

Signs of Damage

Aphids are scale insects that are fed on plant juices. Hence, the leaves may curl or turn yellow. Another sign of aphid damage is the presence of Honeydew or a sticky substance on the soft, new stems.

Preventive Measures with Beneficial Insects

The best way to control Aphids is by promoting a number of beneficial insects such as ladybirds, lacewing larvae and hoverflies. These are natural predators of aphids and hence, will help you control them naturally. Another way to prevent them is by rinsing the plants with a solution of washing up liquid.

Aphids

Whitefly

Appearance

These white-winged insects are very small in appearance and maybe just 1 or 2 mm in length. They look similar to white moths as adults. As they prefer fresh leaves of young plants, you can spot them on the underside of leaves. When disturbed, whiteflies will fly in a cluster. The lifecycle of whitefly is only three weeks long and hence, the infestation happens very rapidly.

Plants Affected

Whiteflies could be found in a variety of flower plants and vegetable crops like cabbages, tomatoes and cucumbers. More than the outdoor plants, they can cause major harm to the greenhouse plants.

Signs of Damage

Whitefly damage may not be visible at first and you can only spot the insects themselves. Later, whiteflies and other scale insects suck the sap from plants, leaving a black mould like appearance on them, which affects plant growth.

Preventive Measures

You can hang yellow sticky traps to catch whiteflies in greenhouses. If you have a vegetable garden, you can try keeping ornamental plants like marigolds inside the greenhouse. The strong smell of marigold works as a deterrent.

Whitefly

Slugs and Snails

Appearance

Though they are not insects, they can cause severe harm to vegetable gardens. Their colours can vary from grey, black, orange, brown and tan to mottled. Usually, snails and slugs are differentiated from the shell that snails have. Otherwise, they look similar and both have a slime trail behind them.

Plants Affected

Almost all garden pests include slugs and snails control because they feed on numerous species of plants and vegetables. Leafy vegetables and salads are prone to their damage.

Signs of Damage

Slugs usually attack at night and hence, you need to check for the damage in the morning. Slugs and snail damage can be spotted if you see rugged leaves with tiny holes or scalloped bites at the edges.

Preventive Measures

Beneficial animals and insects such as hedgehogs and centipedes are natural enemies of slugs and snails. You can promote them in your garden and also try another trick by placing copper coins around plants. There are various organic pest controls and other beneficial insects available for tackling slugs and snails.

Slugs and snails

Fuchsia Gall Mite

Appearance

This microscopic creature can cause severe damage to your fuchsia plants. Early summer is the best growing season for this plant and this is the time when you need to do a little pest control work. Fuchsia gall mite is so tiny in appearance that it’s impossible to spot it without a microscope. Usually, the mites are 0.25 mm long.

Plants Affected

Fuchsia plants can be affected to a certain level when attacked by these insects. New plants growth is mainly affected during the early spring or summer.

Signs of Damage

These insects can suck the sap at the shoot tips and secrete chemicals that affect new plant growth. The plants affected might not develop new leaves or flowers in the new season.

Preventive Measures

There are many organic controls available to get rid of fuchsia gall mites. As you can easily spot the infested shoot tips, you will need to cut them to control the regrowth. You can do a weekly follow up by pruning away the new shoots that are showing the symptoms. It will be enough as damage control.

Fuchsia Gall Mite

Cabbage Moth Caterpillar

Appearance

It is perhaps the only species of caterpillar that can affect your garden. Cabbage moth caterpillars can be distinguished from the rest of the species by their colour. They can be yellow or browny green with no trace of hair. They can make their entry to the heart of the cabbages easily.

Plants Affected

Cabbages, broccoli, sprouts and other brassicas are the main target of cabbage moth caterpillars.

Signs of Damage

You can easily spot the damage by looking at the leaves of your brassicas. If there’s any hole in the leaves, it can signify a cabbage moth caterpillar attack. The insects can also be spotted physically.

Preventive Measures using Natural Predators

Including natural predators of cabbage moth caterpillars will be the best way. You can include birds in your garden as well as marigold plants. Make sure you place the marigold plant not too close as it can affect the root growth of the cabbage.

Cabbage Moth Caterpillar

Vine Weevil

Appearance

With an appearance like adult beetles, this black-brown shaded insect has a moderate size of around 1 cm in length. Their fused wings are not suitable for flying and the wing cases are full of orange hair tufts. Interestingly, all weevils are females since no male has been ever identified. The C-shaped larvae are white in colour.

Plants Affected

From perennials to shrubs and fruit trees, vine weevils are destructive pests as they lay eggs on a huge number of plants.

Signs of Damage

They feed on leaves as adults and the larvae feed on plant roots. If you spot notch-shaped bites around the edges of leaves, it can be due to weevils’ attack. The larvae are the most dangerous as the root damage can cause the entire plant to die.

Preventive Measures

If your garden is full of animals like chickens, birds, frogs and hedgehogs, you can control vine weevils naturally. Also, you can try picking adult weevils off of plants and removing larvae from the soil or treating the soil with a predatory nematode.

Vine Weevil

Box Tree Caterpillar

Appearance

Box tree caterpillars are small insects that can be harmful to garden plants. These are basically the larvae of a moth, which feeds on box plants. A box caterpillar can be identified for its yellow and black stripes on the green body and a blackhead. Box caterpillars feed on the leaves of the box shrubs.

Plants Affected

Boxes shrubs and trees are mostly affected by the box caterpillars. As a common garden pest, the insect affects the plant roots of many vegetable crops.

Signs of Damage

Once a box caterpillar starts laying eggs in your garden, the damage starts. On the underside of box leaves, you can spot pale yellow flattish eggs.

Preventive Measures

There are many ways to control these harmful insects. First, you need to inspect plants affected and then use non-toxic iron phosphate to get rid of box caterpillars. Finally, clean the garden debris and wait for eight weeks for the leaves to resprout.

Box Tree Caterpillar

Flea Beetle

Appearance

Flea beetles have different species and not all are harmful. However, some species feeding on the leaves of brassicas and other plants can cause severe plant damage. Belonging to the leaf beetle family, flea beetles are small, jumping beetle that is usually 2-3 mm long. They have brown heads and three pairs of legs.

Plants Affected

Though various types of plants can be the victim of flea beetle attack, brassicas or salads such as rocket, radish, swede, turnip and wallflowers are hugely affected by these beetles species.

Signs of Damage

When these insects start to damage, the healthy plants of your garden start to show their signs. You can spot the damages if you see peppering of holes that look unsightly, particularly on salad leaves.

Preventive Measures

There are many pesticides available that can help you kill adult beetles. If you want to try organic alternatives that work effectively, try spraying neem oil on affected plants.

Flea Beetle

Chafer Grub

Appearance

Chafer grubs are the larvae of chafer beetles (cock chefer/Maybug, garden chafer, or Welsh chafer), which live underground in the ground. Cockchafer grubs feed on plant roots and may cause damage to your lawn. These fat white grubs have c-shaped bodies with light brown heads. To tell them apart from black vine weevil grubs, look for three sets of brown legs positioned near the head end.

Plants Affected

A variety of plants and grasses (lawns) 

Signs of Damage

The damage from grubs is cumulative, and it can quickly turn a beautiful garden into an unsightly mess. Plants struggling to survive in borders or yellow patches of grass and shredded turf where animals dig for the grubs are examples of wilting plants.

Preventive Measures

If found in beds and borders they can be easily removed by hand or with a trowel. For the lawn, water in the evening, cover with sheets to bring them to the surface then remove the cover at first light to create a feast for your garden birds.

Chafer Beetle

Mealy Bug

Appearance

Mealy bugs are tiny, oval-shaped bugs with a white, powdery wax coating. There are many different species, some of which appear to have legs emerging from their rear and side areas. It’s entirely possible to mistake them for fungus in the early stages of their life and not realize they’re insects at all.

Plants Affected

A large number of plants are grown in the greenhouse, including citrus trees and tomatoes, as well as houseplants like cacti, succulents, and orchids. Ceanothus, phormium, and bamboo are among the outdoor plants that may be found here. 

Signs of Damage

Sap-feeding insects such as mealybugs are known as mealy bugs. Underneath less obvious parts of the plant, you may see a white wax on the foliage, which is where the insects or their eggs are hiding. Mealybugs produce honeydew, which causes black sooty mould on leaves.

Preventive Measures

When you buy plants for your greenhouse, be sure to thoroughly examine them for mealybug infestations, especially if they are going on the be in your greenhouse. Keep an eye out for dead leaves and debris in your greenhouse; these might contain mealybug eggs. Ladybugs eat mealybugs naturally; introducing them to your facility may help.

Mealy Bug

More Garden Pests

Keeping plants in your garden may seem a challenging task if there is serious damage due to pests. Though the above pests are the most common ones, there are many others. Here is a list of other garden pests that you might have to control as well.

  • Rosemary beetle larvae
  • Box tree moth
  • Tortrix moths
  • Woolly aphid
  • Viburnum beetle
  • Ants
  • Lily Beetle
  • Leaf Hopper
  • Leaf Miner
  • Scale Insect

Insecticides for your plants

If you have a garden and want to control pests naturally the best way is by switching to organic methods or safe insecticides. 

Natural and DIY pesticides are effective at helping to rid your crops of harmful critters, but safe enough to keep from harming you and your family. Here are a few ideas:

Vegetable Oil Spray

Certain difficult pests, such as aphids, mites, thrips, etc., can be effectively dealt with using a homemade insecticide created from vegetable oil combined with a mild detergent.

Soap Spray

A soap spray, which is also effective against mites, aphids, whiteflies, beetles, and other hungry little insects, is a very similar Oil Spray.

Neem Oil Spray

The seeds of the neem tree are a rich source of natural insecticide that can kill insects at all stages (adult, larvae, and egg), making them an ideal supplement for organic gardeners.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a powerful natural insecticide that may also be used as a home remedy for a variety of ailments. This component works via its abrasive properties and attraction to accumulate lipids (a waxy substance) from insects’ exoskeleton, which then dehydrates them to death.

Garlic Spray

Garlic is known for its pungent aroma, which some people enjoy while others despise, and it is this powerful scent that comes into play when utilized as a natural insecticide. It’s not entirely clear if garlic spray and chile spray (below) are real insecticides or more potent bug repellents, but either way, they are easy to make and work

Chile Pepper Spray

Similar to garlic spray, chile pepper spray is an excellent homemade natural insect repellant that can be utilized against a wide range of pests. Chile spray may be produced from either fresh hot peppers or chile pepper powder.

Share your love
Default image
Oliver Wright

I hope you enjoy reading some of the content and ideas from this site, I tend to share articles and product reviews on a daily basis, so be rest assured… you won’t run out of things to read!

Articles: 264