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10 Common Garden Pests and How To Control Them

Common Garden Pests: viburnum leaf beetles (Pyrrhalta viburni)

Common garden pests: Identifying garden pests and How to control them.

If you have plants then at some point you have had or will have bugs and insects.

Some of them are good bugs that help control the bad bug population. And even bad bugs aren't bad by themselves but large infestations can totally wipe out your plants.

If only a small infestation is present, spraying your plants with a blast from your water hose can help control plant pests.

Identifying insects can sometimes be difficult so knowing what to look for can help with eliminating them.

Tips to keep pests away:

  • Make sure there isn’t any standing water puddling around you yard
  • If eating food outside make sure it is covered
  • Trash and other garbage should be placed well away from where you are spending your time


NOTE: I try to use organic garden pest control to get rid of bugs and insects in my yard because even though pesticides work they will also eliminate beneficial insects that we need as well. That is always something to keep in mind.


Beneficial Garden Insects

Beneficial garden insects - Ladybug Larva

There are a lot of beneficial garden insects that will get rid of common garden pests. Each of these bugs has their own favourite bad bug they prefer.

  • Ladybugs and their larva prey on Aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, leaf hoppers, mites and whiteflies
  • Ground beetles prey on slugs, caterpillars, cutworms and potato beetles
  • Aphid midges eat aphids
  • Damsel bugs eat caterpillars, mites, aphids and cabbage worms
  • Parasitic wasps like caterpillars, aphids, scale insects and stink bugs
  • Praying Mantis like caterpillars, flies, moths, beetles, aphids, leaf hoppers, mosquitoes, grasshoppers and crickets
  • Spiders eat aphids, roaches, grasshoppers, mosquitoes and fruit flies
  • Ground beetles eat slugs,aphids, fly maggots, caterpillars, ants, slugs, potato beetles, cutworms
  • Damsel bugs like caterpillars, leaf hoppers, mites, aphids, moth eggs, sawfly larvae, potato beetles, cabbage worms
  • Green lacewing prefer aphids, moth eggs, whiteflies, thrips, leafhopper, scale insects, Mealybugs and small caterpillars
  • Minute pirate bugs like spider mites, insect eggs, caterpillars, aphids, and thrips
  • Soldier beetles eat grasshopper, eggs, beetles, moths, aphids, soft body insects
  • Tachinid flies eat gypsy moths, Japanese beetles, cutworms, squash bugs
  • Hoverflies larvea like aphids, scale insects, and caterpillars
  • Mealybug destroyer like Mealybugs
  • Predatory mites like some spider mites, other pest mites and scale insects
  • HB Nematodes eat Japanese Beetles grub, Weevils, and any soil dwelling insects


Here are some of the most common garden pests you may encounter.


Top 10 Common Garden Pests

Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)

Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)

These green and copper looking beetles will eat your leaves until they look like skeletons with only the veins of the leaves remaining. They can destroy your entire plant within a day.

Learn how to kill Japanese beetles


Aphids (Aphidoidea)

Aphids (Aphidoidea)

These small soft-body insects suck the sap out of your plants and leave honeydew behind that attracts ants and can drop off trees and onto your car, and outdoor furniture.

Learn about controlling Aphid.


Mealybugs (Pseudococcidae)

Mealybugs (Pseudococcidae)

These little white cotton-like bugs can destroy your plants by sucking the sap out of the leaves which make them turn yellow and die. 


Learn how to control mealybugs here


Scale Insects (Coccoidea)

Scale Insects (Coccoidea)

These little pests look like bumps on the stems and leaves of your plants. The part you see is the protective coating over the insect. 

Learn how to control scale insects.


Earwigs (Dermaptera)

Earwigs (Dermaptera)

These plant pests do not hurt humans but they will eat your plants. If you find holes in the leaves, then earwigs might be the cause.

Click for more info about earwig control


Slugs and Snails (gastropods)

Slugs and Snails (gastropods)

These slimy little insects will leave holes in the leaves of your plant during the night and hide in cool damp places during the day.


Read more about controlling slugs and snails in your yard


More Common Garden Pests

Caterpillars

How to get rid of Caterpillars that are eating your plants.

They love to munch on leaves making your plant look unhealthy. They eat half the leaf and move onto the next one.

Learn how to get rid of caterpillars.


Spider Mites (Tetranychidae)

Spider Mites (Tetranychidae)

Found on both houseplants and outdoor plants, these microscope insects will suck the sap out of the leaves and eventually they turn yellow and drop off the plant and eventually kill the plant.

Click to learn about spider mite control


Leaf Miners (Liriomyza trifolii)

Leaf Miners (Liriomyza trifolii)

If you see wiggly lines through your leaves, then chances are you have leaf miners. 

They are larva from wasps, sawflies, and flies and live inside the leaves.

Read more on leafminer control


Whiteflies Control (Aleyrodidae)

Whiteflies Control (Aleyrodidae)

These soft bodied, winged insects love to suck the sap out of leaves and leave behind honeydew that attracts ants and can drip from the leaves onto anything that is under them.

The How To's on Whitefly Control


Best Pest Control Products

While doing research on garden pests I came across 2 organic pests control products that seem to be easy to use.


AzaMax

AzaMax is according to General Hydroponics “natural insecticide, miticide, and nematicide made from Neemazal® Technical (Purest Azadirachtin technical of highest concentration in the world). This is extracted from the neem seed kernel.”

It will work to get rid o the following common garden pests:

  • Foliar sucking insects
  • Defoliar insects
  • Mites
  • Soil borne insects
  • Bad nematodes

This includes over 200 types of bugs and insects but it doesn’t harm the beneficial insects that also help out in the garden. The only place I have found to buy it is at Walmart.ca. As far as I know it’s not available in store, just online.


Tree Tanglefoot

Tanglefoot is a sticky barrier that is applied to the trunk of trees and shrubs to stop crawling insects from getting into the plant. 

Ants are known to protect sucking insects that produce honeydew. When the ants are protecting these insects, beneficial insects can’t do their job of destroying the bad insects so it’s important to get rid of ants and other crawling insects that are protecting the bad insects.

When Tanglefoot is applied the crawling insects can’t get past the sticky barrier and therefore it’s easier to destroy bad bugs.

Tanglefoot will stop these common garden pests:

  • Cankerworms
  • Gypsy moths
  • Army and tent caterpillars
  • Ants
  • Pecan weevils
  • Tussock moths
  • Climbing cutworms

Tanglefoot is available at Home Depot, Home Hardware, Canadian Tire and a few other places.

Plants that Repel Common Garden Pests

Something else to consider is that you can add some pest resistant plants to your landscape to keep unwanted bugs and insects away. 

Plants that have a strong scent or an unattractive taste will repel common garden pests. 

After doing extensive research I have come up with a long list of plants that will repel garden pests.


Herbs

  • Lavender – repel mosquitoes, moths, fleas, flies, moths, ticks, gnats and also keeps mice away
  • Basil – repels mosquitoes, house flies, Asparagus beetle, tomato hornworm
  • Citronella – repels mosquitoes, flying insects
  • Rosemary - repels mosquitoes
  • Catnip – repels mosquitoes, flies, deer ticks, cockroaches, ants
  • Mint – repels mosquitoes, ants, spiders, cabbage moths
  • Chives – repels carrot flies, Japanese Beetles, aphids
  • Lemon Thyme – repels mosquitoes
  • Sage – repels cabbage moths, carrot flies, ticks
  • Bay leaves – repels flies, roaches
  • Dill – repels aphids, squash bugs, spider mites, cabbage loppers, tomato hornworms
  • Fennel – repels aphids, slugs and snails
  • Lemon balm – repels mosquitoes, gnats, squash bugs
  • Oregano – repels mosquitoes, cabbage moths
  • Parsley – repels asparagus beetles
  • Thyme – repels whiteflies, cabbage loppers, cabbage maggots, corn earworms, tomato hornworms
  • Rosemary – repels flies and mosquitoes, cabbage moths, carrot flies, bean beetles, flies, ticks, Mexican bean beetles
  • Garlic – repels mosquitoes, flies, aphids, Japanese beetles, weevils, fruit tree borers, spider mites, root maggots, carrot flies, codling moths, cabbage moths
  • Spearmint – repels aphids, ants
  • Peppermint – repels ants, mosquitoes, and even mice stay away

Flowers

  • Marigolds - repels aphids, mosquitoes, squash bugs, tomato worms, bad nematodes, plant lice, asparagus beetle
  • Chrysanthemums- repels roaches, ants, Japanese beetles, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, spider mites, harlequin bugs, root nematodes, mosquitoes
  • Petunias - repel aphids, tomato hornworms, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, squash bugs
  • Nasturtiums - repel whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, beetles, cabbage loppers
  • Alliums – repel slugs, aphids, carrot flies, cabbage worms
  • Geraniums - repel leafhoppers

The above list is pest resistant plants. Try planting them around the plants you want to protect. 


Common Garden Pests

There are a lot of ways to deal with bugs and insects if they become harmful to your plants. 

Do you use all natural remedies like dish soap and water or do you use insecticides? And on which insects?

Do you have other insects not listed here? How do you eliminate them?

What is YOUR best way to get rid of pests? 

Add your questions, comments, home remedies, etc. below. And if you find this site helpful, please pay it forward by answering or commenting on any of the submissions below.


How are YOU Dealing with Bugs and Insects in your yard?

Identifying and dealing with garden pests is something every gardener has to do at some point. How are you dealing with the bugs and insects that invade YOUR yard?

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Technique and Recipes from Other Visitors

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Best Recipe for Garden Pest Control 
This is a recipe I use in my garden to control garden pests that are eating my plants. Organic recipe with Chillies and Garlic 1/2 cup chillies …

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