Controlling Insect Pests

controlling bad bugs in the garden

Bad Bugs in the garden:

There is nothing more discouraging as spending hours caring for your favourite plants only to have them infested with pests.

Red Lily Beetle at
Slugs and Snails at

Prevention Techniques:

I monitor my garden pests every morning before starting my day.
I use also companion planting and "sticky traps" to deter pests where possible.
For "soft body" insects I use soap and water.
For "hard body" insects like beetles; I used soap, water and oil.
I also hand pick insects and drop them in soapy water with a tablespoon of oil.

Controlling Insect Pests

Insect Description Host Damage Control
Aphids Small, pear-shaped, soft-bodied insects of various colours, with long antennae. Many vegetables, annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs. Insects suck plant juices, causing curled leaves, deformed buds and flowers. Transmit plant diseases. For heavy infestation, use insecticidal soap for 2-3 days. Ladybugs eat aphids.
Apple Maggots White or Yellowish 1/4" long larvae. Adults are 1/4" black flies with white or yellow marking on abdomen, zigzag black stripes on wings with yellow legs. Apples, Apricots, blue berries, crabapples, cherries, pears and plums. Larva make brown tunnels in fruit; damage hard to see in fruit. Collect all dropped fruit. Trap flies with sticky traps made of a red ball coated in "Tanglefoot" or other stick substance. Hang 3-4 on tree. Trap flies in jar filled with 1 part backstrap molases and 9 parts water.
Armyworms Brown and Green caterpillars with dark stripes, mottled brown head; 1 - 1/2" long. Adults are night-flying 1- 1/2" moths with grey-white mottled wings. Various vegetables and grasses. Caterpillars chew leaves, stems and buds, usually at night time. Handpick and drop in soapy water. Use Bacillus thuringiensis ( BT ) for larvae.
Cabbage loopers Light green caterpillars with yellow stripes. "Loop" as they walk. Adults are brown moths with silver spot on wing. Members of the cabbage family; vegetables such as beans, lettuce, parsley, peas, spinach and tomatoes. Caterpillars chew holes in leaves; bore into developing heads of cabbage family members. Handpick caterpillars and eggs and drop them in soapy water. Use Bacillus thuringiensis ( BT ) for serious infestations.
Coddling Moths Pink. 1 inch long larvae with brown heads. Adults are grey-brown moths with delicate brown lines on their forewings and fringed, pale hind legs. Apples and pears ( serious pest ) also other fruits and walnuts. Larvae cause early drop of fruit; form tunnels to core of fruit. Use Sticky traps made of red balls coated with "Tanglefoot" or other sticky substance. Bacillus thuringiensis ( BT )and horticultural oils are good preventatives.
Colorado Potato Beetles Yellow 3/8" long beetles with black stripes, orange heads and rounded backs. Plump red larvae have two rows of black spots on sides, black heads. Yellow eggs in rows under leaves. Various vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Adults and larvae chew foliage, defoliating plants. Mulch heavily with clean straw or hay. Handpick and remove eggs in spring. Use pyrethrum for serious infestations. Ladybugs prey on them.
Cucumber beetles One type is 1/4" long, yellow with black spots; larvae are slender and white; 1/4" long. The other beetles are 1/4" long, yellow-orange with black stripes; larvae are beige with brown head and brown spot on the last body segment; 1/2" long. Vegetables, trees, flowers and fruits. Larvae feeds on roots. Adults chew holes in leaves, flowers, fruits. Beetles may spread bacteria wilt of cucumber bits and cucumber mosaic. Clear away plant debris, specially spent cucurbit plants. Use rotenone for serious infestations.
Cutworms Larvae of nocturnal moths. Fat greyish to brown caterpillars, usually curled; 1-2 inch long. Overwinter in grass or debris. Seedlings, transplants of most vegetables, annuals, perennials and some grasses. During night, larvae chew stems at or below ground level. Protect seedlings and transplants with 3" paper collars.
Flea beetles Small, black, shiny beetles, some with curved yellow or white stripes. Hop quickly away when disturbed. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, grapes and melons. Adults chew tiny holes om leaves. Larvae chew roots. Use pyrethrum for severe infestations.
Japanese Beetles Adults are shiny, 1/2" long, metallic green beetles with copper colored wings. Larvae are plump, 1" long grayish-white grubs with dark brown head, usually curled up in C-shape. Adults feed on many fruit and shade trees, shrubs, flowers and few vegetables. Adults eat foliage or fruits. Grubs chew roots of plants. Very destructive in masses. Handpick and drop in soapy water. For long term grub control use Bacillus popilliae. Use pyrethrum for severe infestations.
Plum curculios Adults are 1/4" long beetle with curved brown snout, mottled gray back with 4 humps. White larvae are legless grubs with brown heads. Serious pest of stone fruits. Adults make crescent shaped cuts in fruit to lay eggs in spring. Hatching larvae eat within fruit. Collect dropped fruit and destroy. Shake adults into soapy water or crush. Use rotenone for severe infestations.
Sawflies Several species of wasp-like flies with 2 pair of wings. Can be 5/8 - 1-1/2" long. Larvae looks similar to caterpillars; may be black or green 1/2" long. Various trees, shrubs, grasses, fruits and flowers. Larvae feed on fruit and leaves. Some may roll or mine leaves or spin webs. Hand pick larvae on smaller plants. Insecticidal soap is effective. Use pyrethrum or rotenone.
Squash Bugs Flat, dark brown to black bugs with orange-brown on the abdomen; nearly 3/4" long. Nymphs have red heads, antennae and legs and green abdomen or are dark greenish grey. Various vine crops, especially squash and pumpkins. Both Adult and nymphs suck plant juices, causing leaves to wilt, blacken and dry. Clear away spent crops after harvest. Place boards in garden, destroy bugs that hide underneath. Insecticidal soap is effective. Use pyrethrum or rotenone.
Squash vine borers White 1" long larvae with brown heads and tiny brown legs. Adults are orange and black clear-winged moths; 1-1/2" long. Pumpkins, gourds, squash, cucumbers, muskmelons and watermelons. Boring larvae cause wilted runners and vines. Deposits of yellow-green, sawdust-like material near the bases of stems and around wounds. Inject Bacillus thuringiensis ( BT ) into the infected stems. Poke a flexible wire into entrance hole to kill larvae. Pile soil over wound to encourage rooting. Destroy vines after harvest.
Thrips Thin 1/2 inch long insects with fringed wings. Many flowers and vegetables. Nymphs and adults of some species scrape plant tissue and feed on sap. Discolored twisted leaves; with flowering buds; pitted fruit. Insecticidal is effective. Use pyrethrum in severe cases. Green-lace wings prey on thrips.
Wireworms Thin, brown, 0hard-shelled, wormlike larvae; 1/2-1-1/2" long. Adults are brown or grey click beetles, with dark spotted heads; 1/2" long. Vegetables, fruits, grass and flowers.0 Worms feed on underground stems, roots, or seeds of many plants, causing wilting and death. Handpick adults in spring. Trap larvae by putting half a potato on a stick in a 3x3" hole. In 3-4 days, drop potato and worms in bucket of soapy water. Repeat until no longer a problem.

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