Vegetable Garden Insects

There are few garden disasters more devastating than the demise of vegetables. It may seem like the stuff of Saturday morning cartoons, but a vegetable garden can be undone in a moment by bugs. Where you went to bed and your garden was the paragon of veggie goodness, you wake to find a massacre.

What follows is a list of common garden pests, how they harm your garden, and what you can do about it.

Cucumber Beetle

Top 10 Garden Pests in UK for 2013 and 2014

Top Garden Pests
2013 2014
1 Slugs/Snails 1 Slugs/Snails
2 Vine weevil 2 Vine weevil
3 Capsid bug 3 Cushion scale
4 Mice 4 Lily beetle
5 Cushion scale 5 Rosemary beetle
6 Glasshouse red spider mite 6 Aphid
7 Glasshouse mealybug 7 Allium leaf miner
8 Plum moth =8 Tortrix moth caterpillar
=9 Ants =8 Mice
=9 Lily beetle 10 Ants

*The data was collected and presented by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Now we will introduce you to some of the most common vegetable pests. Not all of them made it to the top garden pest table but are still an equal potential threat for your vegetables.

Cutworm

Close up photo of cutworm

As vicious as its name is, this garden pest is to be feared from – it literally cuts off the plants’ stems. Its prey are broccoli, cabbage, beets, cauliflower and kale. That’s why it recently beat the dog for title “a child’s best friend” – because it destroys all the vegetables your child won’t eat.
This little natural wonder comes in brown, black, grey, red, striped or spotted.

How to recognize it, you ask? Poke it with a stick and its sure to curl up into a ‘C’.
It will literally introduce itself – it’s ‘C’ for ‘Cutworm’.

Allium Leaf Miner

Allium plants

Here’s another veggie pest with a scary name. Another name it could also be given is “my partner’s best friend”, since it happens to eat all the vegetables that nobody wants to kiss. You guessed it – garlic, onion and also leeks.
The real criminals are the maggots of the adult fly.

How to recognize it? If you spot a grey fly around your garden, combined with white spots on your plants’ foliage – beware! You might be in for an infestation.
See also: Leek moth

Pea Moth Caterpillar

Peas

Pea moth caterpillars are found in vegetable gardens all over the UK.
In order to get a caterpillar you need a moth first, and this inconspicuous moth is around between May and August.
This pest is what you call a ‘smooth criminal’ because the damage done can only be seen at harvest: The moth will lay her eggs in the flower and then the caterpillars will feed on the peas inside the ripening pod. It’s easy to lose an entire crop of peas this way.

How to recognize them? The larvae inside the peas is creamy white, but what you should be looking out for is the moth itself. It’s small with a grey-brown colour and should be spotted around pea plants that are in flower.

Cucumber Beetle

Close up photo of a cucumber beetle

The cucumber beetle is colourful, common, small and maybe even cute. Do not get fooled – this insect can lay waste to an entire garden in no time. The female cucumber beetle can lay up to 500 eggs and all these larvae will have a real feast on the root system of your plants.
Adults ride out the winter, survive on pollen in the spring, and once their favourite vegetables and fruits are planted they lay eggs and feast.
With a taste for cucumbers, melons, squash, and the occasional tomato, they can devour an entire garden if left unchecked.

How to recognize them? Where some are striped and some are spotted both are oblong shaped, yellowish, and very hungry.

Aphids

Close up photo of an aphid

Where aphids can’t do too much harm in smaller numbers, if you start to see blackening on foliage or sooty leaves, you may have an infestation on your hands.
Aphids can give give birth without the aid of a mate, and they reproduce in a hurry. On top of that, they eat, or suck the juice out of most anything in the garden. With a preference for peas, cabbage, and squash, aphids can undo a lot of hard work in a short time.

How to recognize them? Look for tiny green and yellowish bugs on the underside of younger leaves and flower buds.

Flea Beetle

Close up photo of blue flea beetles

If your plant leaves look like they’ve been hit with a buckshot, you may have flea beetles. What do they eat? If you can name it, they’ll run through it, and their larvae will feed on the roots.

How to recognize them? This dark coloured jumpers have a metallic sheen and many generations can occur in multiple areas.

Pest Control in Your Vegetable Garden

There are several cures for these pests including regular checks of your crops, delaying planting, and keeping the garden clear of plant detritus during the winter. What works really well against flying insects (such as moths and flies) laying eggs is a horticulture fleece.

You can also consider Integrated Pest Management by introducing natural enemies into your garden. For example, the aphid’s arch nemesis are the green lacewings, for caterpillars it’s the nematode and so on. Insect wars in your back yard, hooray!

If you want a more risk averse plan, coordinate with Fantastic Pest Control. With plans to treat any and all pests year round, you can focus on the growing, harvesting, and eating of your veggies, and they’ll handle security.

Image sources:
Cutworm
Allium Leaf
Pea Moth Caterpillar
Cucumber Beetle
Aphids
Flea Beetle

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