Common Garden Pests And How to Get Rid of Them

by Rachel McDonald on March 10, 2022 Comments Off on Common Garden Pests And How to Get Rid of Them

It’s easy to get excited about planting your GreenStalk Vertical Garden full of great veggies and flowers, but don’t let garden pests take you by surprise! It is so easy to become caught up in something that you are passionate about that you forget all about what may become a hindrance to you later on. In this post, we’ll list some common garden pests and the best ways to prevent or get rid of them.

Preventative Measures

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This advice rings true for dealing with pests in the garden. Here are some general preventative measures that you can take that should cover a wide range of pests:

  • Make sure your planting location is ideal and healthy. Consistently wet areas will breed bad bacteria and make a home for pests.
  • Purchase pest resistant plants such as lavender, basil, lemon balm, and marigold. 
  • Keep your garden clear of debris and weeds, which will also help keep your GreenStalk watering system clear.
  • Prune plants as needed.
  • Know what pests are drawn to your plants.
  • Make sure you start out with clean soil. Do not reuse pest or disease ridden soil.
  • Spray a very mild solution of apple cider vinegar and water on your plants and the perimeter of your garden.
  • DM or Diatomaceous Earth can be sprinkled on plants and on the perimeter of your garden.
  • Rotate your crops seasonally if you are able.

Getting Rid of Pests 

There are many ways to remove pests from your plants and crops. You can use pest-specific methods, or methods that will work on various types of pests. Some of the more popular broad methods are: 

  • Use sticky insect traps.
  • Spray your plants directly with neem oil, pepper spray, dish soap & water mixture, Diatomaceous Earth, or kaolin clay. Remember to thoroughly wash your edibles once you harvest. 
  • Open a can of beer and bury it so that the top of the can is level with the top of the soil. Pests will fall in and drown. Slugs can’t resist it.

Common Pests

Aphids are incredibly common and you will most likely find them on your fruits or vegetable crops at some point. The best way to get rid of these pesky critters is to try garlic spray, neem oil, soapy water mixture, or to encourage other bugs or predators that prey on aphids.

Macro photo of a green aphid on a leaf
Aphid, via Unsplash

Cutworms are fairly common and tend to be nocturnal. They can be found on or near young vegetable crops and flower plants before they are matured. These worms are known to eat the stems of plants or, if the plant is small enough, eat entire plants in the late spring or early summer. Unfortunately, the best way to rid your garden of these pests is to pick them off by hand or delay your planting.

Flea Beetles earned their name because they are small, dark, and tend to jump like fleas if they are disturbed. They are fairly common and are known to attach themselves to most vegetable crops. The mature beetles will feed on leaves, while the larvae tend to feed on the plant’s roots. The general methods mentioned above should work with removing these pests from your crops, or you could try a mild solution of rubbing alcohol and soapy water.

a flea beetle on a blade of grass
A flea beetle, via Wikimedia

Tarnished Plant Bugs can be found on most flowers, fruits, or vegetable plants. These bugs cause damage by sucking out the plant juices which causes the plants to wilt, distort, or die. The best way to get rid of them is to use neem oil or attract native insects that prey on these bugs. It is also helpful to keep your garden as weed-free as possible.

a tarnished plant bug on a leaf
A tarnished plant bug, via Wikimedia

Japanese Beetles, like many other bugs on this list, tend to attach themselves to a variety of flowers, vegetables, and fruit plants. The grubs or larvae of these bugs feed on plant roots while matured Japanese beetles will eat leaves and leave nothing but the veins, causing them to look like a skeleton. Insect traps, soapy water mixture, and shaking the beetles from your plants are the best way to rid yourself of these pests.

a Japanese beetle eating holes in a leaf
A Japanese beetle via Pexels

Scales all look different from each other and if you don’t know what they are, they can be hard to spot. The larvae are small and crawling, while adult males are normally seen flying, and females are small bumps that you can find on leaves, fruit, and stems. They feed off plants by sucking the plant sap and will cause yellowing or dropping leaves and may end up killing your plants. The best way to combat these little bugs is to spray them with neem oil or encourage birds or other bugs that prey on scales.

Red Spider Mites are very small and red. To properly see them you would need a magnifying glass. If you have an infestation of these little pests, they will show on the underside of the leaves and the leaves will appear unhealthy and dusty looking. Red spider mites can attack a wide variety of plants but tend to prefer azaleas and camellias. The best way to rid yourself of them is to attract their natural predators, such as lacewings and ladybugs, or to use neem oil.

Thrips (Thunder Flies) are slender insects with fringed wings that will latch onto a variety of flowers, fruits, and garden plants. They, like a good many of the common garden pests, will suck the sap from your plants. They damage your plants and leave streaks, speckling, and small white patches in the leaves. Insect traps and neem oil spray are the best solutions to ridding your garden of these pests.

Thrips, eggs, and nymphs on a leaf
Thrips, eggs, and nymphs via Wikimedia

Weevils are small beetles with long snouts and are known for not only infesting gardens, but also dry food storage areas such as your pantry! They will commonly feed on herb plants and shrubs, as well as stored rice and wheat. Weevils will begin eating plants from the roots and make their way up to the leaves, chewing holes on the edges of them. Cloves and bay leaves will repel weevils but vinegar spray or soapy water will kill them. If all else fails to rid you of your infestation, use insecticides.

Tomato Hornworms are large, bright green worms that typically feast on your tomato plants, but can also eat eggplants, peppers, and potatoes. These big worms are very pretty, but when you are trying to grow some delicious tomatoes, they can be quite annoying. They tend to eat the outside of tomatoes and leave large, open scars on the fruit. You can get rid of them by simply removing the large adults by hand and spraying a soapy water mixture on your plants for the larvae and smaller worms.

A large tomato hornworm on a tomato plant
Tomato hornworm via Wikimedia

Cucumber Beetles can have either stripes or spots and they will eat the leaves, flowers, and fruit of several crops. They are known to infest crops like beans, cucumber, melon, asparagus, corn, and squash. Larvae will eat the roots of your plants, and usually will not cause much damage, but the adults will eat holes in the plants which can stunt growth and reduce fruit production. While these bugs might not kill your plants by eating them, they can spread bacterial wilt disease, which will cause plant death. It is recommended to use sticky traps to remove these beetles from your plants, as well as hand-picking them off your crops.

Have you dealt with any garden pests? How did you handle it? Have you had issues with pests that weren’t mentioned here? Let us know!

How to get rid of garden pests
Rachel McDonaldCommon Garden Pests And How to Get Rid of Them