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Bugs and Insects of the Vegetable Garden

There is nothing like successfully growing a beautiful vegetable garden and eating healthy. Growing a healthy garden takes a lot of time and effort and therefore when insects try to take it over, it is good to be armed with the knowledge to take it back.

Prevention is always a better option when it comes to fighting insects. By incorporating plenty of organic matter and compost to our garden and keeping it weed free, you will take the first steps to insuring that your plants start out on the right foot. By planting flowers nearby to attract the bees and butterflies that we need to crawl into those cucumber and squash flowers to pollinate them, you will get the largest possible yields from your plants. Placing your garden in the full sun and watering it in the early morning will prevent disease and the insects that are waiting for your garden to show weakness.

A healthy garden is the best prevention. Organic soils, fertilizers and organic insecticides are available at your Home Depot stores. There are also the best possible inorganic options for your garden when time is of the essence and the cut worms are wreaking havoc on your beloved crops.

1. Aphids

Although this insect is quite small, this sap sucking pest is fairly easy to identify. This greenish, almost translucent insect will leave a sticky residue on your plants leaves called honeydew. This honeydew residue attracts black sooty mold and ants to your plant. Where there are ants, you will likely find Aphids.

There are not many vegetables that this insect wont eat and you can also commonly find this insect in other colors like yellow, red, brown and black. Ladybugs are a natural solution to fighting Aphids. Other inorganic options for killing Aphids on your vegetables include Bug B Gon (Bifenthrin), Sevin  Dust and Liquid (Carbaryl) or Malathion. For safer organic options look for Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil.

2. Asparagus Beetle

Asparagus Beetles are found exclusively on Asparagus plants. A simple dose of
Sevin  Dust and Liquid will take care of these pests. There are 2 types of this beetle. One shares the orange color with black spots like the lady bug and the other is a metallic blue to black color with creamy yellow spots with red margins on their wings.

3. Bean Leaf Beetle

Bean leaf beetles have a appetite for soybeans primarily but will throw down on some snap beans, peas and snow peas as well. This bean loving pest can come in a few different colors ranging between greenish yellow to red with a black triangle behind its head and four black spots on its back.

Insecticides like Bug B Gon (Bifenthrin) and
Sevin  Dust and Liquid  (Carbaryl) are the best choice for these bad boys.

4. Blister Beetle

It is common to find these guys feeding on your tomatoes, carrots, beans, beets, cabbage, eggplant, melon, mustard, squash and more from late June to fall. Although there are hundreds of species of Blister beetles, there are just a few that want to eat your garden. The one you are more likely to see will have black and orange stripes down its back.

Bug B Gon (Bifenthrin) and
Sevin  Dust and Liquid (Carbaryl) are the recommended weapon of choice. Neem Oil is also a great organic option for eradicating this pest.

5. Cabbageworm

The cabbageworm as an adult, is a white butterfly with black spots on its wings. During the day you can find it flying around laying yellow, oblong eggs on the leaves of your beloved your garden. The eggs hatch in 7 days to give you a 1 inch long, velvety green caterpillar with yellow stripes running down its sides and back. These pests can defoliate a garden if you do not pay attention.
It will eat a large variety of cole crops but can be controlled with
Sevin  Dust and Liquid (Carbaryl) or Malathion Insecticidal Soap is a safe organic option to get rid of cabbageworms.

6. Cabbage Looper

Cabbage loopers start out as grayish brown moths with a small silvery figure 8 on its wings. It will lay white pinhead sized eggs on the underside of the lower leaves of your cabbage broccoli and cauliflower in the middle of the night, as it is nocturnal. This egg hatches out to be what you may also know as an inchworm. It has no legs in the middle, therefore it is very distinguishable as it loops its body as it walks. These guys may be cute little inchworms but they will defoliate your garden.

Sevin  Dust and Liquid (Carbaryl) will be the best option for these. Insecticides with Permethrin will work but could harm your bees.

7. Colorado Potato Beetle

The adult Colorado potato beetle is just under a half inch long, yellowish orange beetle with 10 distinctive black stripes on its back. These insects can traditionally be found on your Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Throughout its life cycle it can be a brick red color or salmon color with a black head.

They often show up in May as the potato plants emerge. Here they will feed for 2 or 3 weeks and then lay orange oval shaped eggs on the bottom of your leaves. 2 weeks later the eggs will hatch and young beetles will once again start to eat your leaves.

Sevin  Dust and Liquid (Carbaryl) will be the best option for these. Insecticides with Permethrin will work but could harm your bees.

8. Corn Earworms, Tomato Fruitworm

This worm has different names, depending on which vegetable it happens to be eating at the time. When it is eating corn, it is a Corn earworm. When it is throwing down on your tomato plants it is called a tomato fruitworm. If it is eating cotton plants then it is a cotton bollworm.

Either way, this insect with many names can be eradicated with Bug B Gon (Bifenthrin) or
Sevin  Dust and Liquid (Carbaryl).

9. Cucumber Beetles

Cucumber beetles enjoy a diet that consists of beans, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins and squash. they come striped and spotted. Striped beetles have black and yellow stripes on its 1/4 inch body, black head and antennas. Spotted beetles have 12 black spots on a yellow 1/4 inch body. The beetle alone will not kill your plants but the larva that lives on the ground can eat the roots, helping lead to its demise.

The biggest threat to plants with this insect however, is that they carry bacterial diseases and viruses like bacterial wilt and mosaic virus from plant to plant which can kill a plant quickly. Bug B Gon (Bifenthrin) or Sevin  Dust and Liquid (Carbaryl) is your best bet to ward off this awful garden crasher.

10. Cutworms

Cutworms come from the larva of a large number of moths. These moths are usually brown or grey and about 1.5 inches long and wide. Cutworms come in colors ranging from pink to green and grey to black. Black cutworms are most common, as their brown and tan bodies blend in well with the soil.

In fall these moths will lay eggs in the soil, where they will survive the winter to then hatch in the warmer temperatures. Cutworms can do quite a  number to your Beans, corn, lettuce and cabbage if you don't keep a close eye on your garden.

Cutworms can be mistaken for grubs but they are actually a caterpillar. Therefore you will get great results controlling them with Bug B Gon (Bifenthrin),  Sevin  Dust and Liquid (Carbaryl) or Malathion.

11. European Corn Borer

Like so many of these insects, the larva is spread by moths. The larva lives in the ground in the winter and then in June the process starts. The first generation of borers comes out and feeds and tunnels between the corn leaf layers. Your leaves may show symptoms resembling shothole. They will soon work their way into the stalk of the plant, leaving a residue resembling sawdust. At this point they are in the process of reaching maturity and pupating. Here they will be harder to spot and the 2nd generation corn borer will deal your corn plant the final blow and crops will be lost.

Spray corn with Bug B Gon (Bifenthrin),  Sevin  Dust and Liquid (Carbaryl) or Captain Jacks Dead Bug Brew for a good organic option, as tassels emerge and if you see symptoms of infestation. If infestation occurs remove all corn stalks and do not plow them under.

12. Flea Beetle

Flea beetles get their name due to their large back legs and their ability to jump far to avoid capture. This typically black beetle, is only 1/16th of an inch long. This leaf chewer will not kill a plant by chewing on it more than it can spread diseases like wilt and blight. Shothole on the leaves is often a good indicator that you have flea beetles if not worms or caterpillars. Flea beetles have an appetite for tomatoes, potatoes and peppers

Bug B Gon (Bifenthrin),  Sevin  Dust or Liquid (Carbaryl) are good chemical options for killing flea beetles or Neem Oil for a good organic option.

13. Japanese Beetle


Japanese beetles come out of the ground in June and can wreak havoc on a garden. Japanese beetles are the adult stage of grub worms. Japanese beetles will chew holes in the leaves of your garden and do a lot of damage quickly. Sevin  Dust or Liquid (Carbaryl) is the best inorganic option for your garden and Milky Spore Powder is the best Organic option for a garden long term, as it is a bacteria that attacks the larva stage of Japanese beetles for up to 10 years.

14. Leafhopper


Leafhoppers have a wide range of plants that they like to feed on, as they will eat over 100 kinds of plants. Their toxic saliva causes white spots on leaf surfaces as they suck the juices from the bottom sides of the leaves. Yellowing of the leaf margins and curling is common as leafhoppers attack the plant cells by feeding on them.

Where there are several species of Leafhoppers, only a few can transmit pathogens that cause curly top virus. They are good at avoiding capture, as they can jump quite well.

Insecticidal Soap and Neem Oil are great organic options for Leafhoppers. Sevin  Dust or Liquid (Carbaryl) or Malathion are good inorganic options for killing leafhoppers.

15. Mexican Bean Beetle


Mexican Bean Beetles are commonly found on cowpeas, snap beans, lima beans and soybeans. You will know quickly that you have this pest when your plants leaves become lacey looking, as the beetle removes everything but the skeletal remains of the leafs veins. Get an early jump on the problem and you will get good results with Neem Oil. For a larger infestation you would get good results with Sevin  Dust or Liquid (Carbaryl) or Malathion.

16. Slugs and Snails


For such a slow garden pest, slugs and snails can be quite stealthy. This is because they will come out after you go to bed and eat the leaves off your veggies under the cover of dark and then hide in a dark damp place before you wake up. Although you might not see them, you can suspect them by looking for the slimy trails that they leave. If you suspect them then leave a piece of cardboard down on the bare ground by the plants and if you have them, they will crawl under it. Check each morning for slugs and snails under it.

They like the occasional beer. Beer baths are the most common way to kill slugs and snails, as they are attracted to it, where they then drown themselves. Just dig a shallow indention in the ground and place a bowl or pie pan flush with the ground and fill with beer. They do not like anything pokey or abrasive therefore things like crushed eggshells (calcium to prevent Blossom End Rot) are good under plants as well as wood ashes from the fireplace/pit (potassium). Use pine straw as mulch around the garden, as they will not try crossing straw, as it is too pokey on its smooth underside.

If you do not want to share your beer with them, that is also perfectly understandable and common. Bug-Geta by Ortho is a good option for killing slugs and snails as well as many other options.

17. Squash Bug


This bug is often confused with a stinkbug or leaf-footed bugs. You will want to keep an eye on your garden, looking on the underside of leaves often, as this is where a majority of vegetable plant eating insects hang out. You will want to find and kill this insect while it is young. If you find clusters of eggs have been laid under the leaves then crush them or pick them off and put in a bucket of water and pour down the drain. Eggs hatch in 10 days so spraying Liquid Sevin (Carbaryl) on top and under the leaves, in 2 week intervals a few times will help get things under control.

If you see these bugs in your garden then put a board on the ground in the garden and they will congregate under it where you would then kill them.

18. Squash Vine Borer


Is your squash plants wilting even though you continue to give it plenty of water? The culprit may be boring holes in the base of the plant and laying its eggs inside. They will commonly go after squash, gourds, pumpkins and zucchini. Prevention is the best way to stop squash borers. If you see this bee looking moth buzzing your squash plants then it may be laying its eggs. If you see this moth then keep a dusting of Sevin  Dust along the bottom 4 inches of the base of the plant. for the next 3 weeks, as the eggs hatch in 2 weeks where the larva will then try to bore into your plant.

If you see sawdust at the base of the plant then the white almost grub looking borer is already inside. The borer has already laid its eggs inside the plant and therefore any infected plants should be removed and not tilled under. Crop rotation is important with controlling this insect, as you will not plant your squash, gourds, pumpkins or zucchini in this area the following year.

Plant your squash as early as possible and you can be harvesting before the squash borers get their act together in the beginning of summer.

Other Gardening Articles:

Bugs and Insects of the Lawn

Bugs and Insects in the Home

Amending Different Soil Types

Difference Between Hybrid, GMO and Heirloom Vegetables

What is Lime and Why is it Important

Starting Plants From Seeds

12 Essential Nutrients Plants Need To Stay Healthy

Plants that Attract Butterflies

Pollination problems with cantaloupe, cucumber, pumpkin, squash and watermelon

How to Grow Vegetable Library
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Posted 2017-04-27T18:07:08+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL Ingar_HD_ATL

19. Tomato Horn Worm

This oversized caterpillar can do a number on your tomato plant in 24 hours, all while hiding brilliantly. This caterpillars brilliant camouflage is the same color as your tomato plant. Once it has eaten your tomato plant it will move on to your peppers, eggplant and potatoes. Moths will lay their eggs on the the leaves of your plants where they will hatch and turn into these caterpillars.



They will then eat nonstop for 3 to 4 weeks to then fall to the ground to pupate. These caterpillars are pretty easy to spot once they have eaten half of your plant and removing by hand works well, as they are harmless and can not sting you. Once you remove them, just drop them in a bucket of water. Sevin  Dust or Liquid (Carbaryl) or Bug B Gon (Bifenthrin) will work well if you are not into picking them off by hand. For an organic option Insecticidal Soap will do the trick as long as you get it directly on them.

20. Spider Mites

Image result for spider mites home depot

This microscopic insect is hard to see with the naked eye if you are not looking for it. It is usually spotted after it has put webbing on your plant. A few wont hurt a plant but if you spotted their webbing, chances are that they are well established by now. This little orange bug is not a mite or an insect but instead, it is a spider.

Insecticidal Soap is a good organic option for spider mites but requires more applications than Neem Oil which works well and does not wash off as easily.

Best Answer

Posted 2017-05-04T20:53:25+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL
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