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A Look at the Most Common Vegetable Garden Pests

Jul 30, 2008
Bugs and insects are a huge pain for many vegetable gardeners. Some insect varieties are able to demolish your garden in a matter of hours. The majority of bugs are more of a nuisance than willfully destructive, but discovering these pests making a meal of your crop would make anybody furious.

Let's take a look at a few of the most familiar bugs and insects found in the vegetable garden, how to spot them, and how to eliminate them.

Among the ugliest garden pests is the tomato hornworm. It dines on the fruit and leaves of peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants. It is a big, fat, white and green worm that is similar to a caterpillar, with a big horn that resembles a stinger. It can be plucked from the plant using gloved hands and submerged in soapy water to kill it. Alternatively, you could spray the tomato hornworm with stomach poison insecticide, neem oil, or Bacillus thuringiensis.

Thrips overrun numerous plants such as cabbages, beans, melons, carrots, peas, turnips, squash, tomatoes and celery. They create uneven white markings on the plant's leaves, leaving them looking deformed. To get rid of them, use a hose to wash off the bugs and then spritz on some contact poison.

Snails and slugs are particularly damaging to tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, turnips and lettuce. You know they've been there because they leave behind a slimy trail and eat the leaves on the plants. You could purchase bait to get rid of them, but if you put a shallow dish containing beer in the garden, they will be attracted to it and drown.

If you notice fat white worms in the soil, you're probably looking at grubs. Grubs will cause your plants to droop, and may stunt their growth. They can be held in check by adding milky spore to the soil. Grubs later become beetles, which can be wiped out using stomach poison insecticide.

Cutworms have a preference for peppers, cabbages, and tomatoes, and typically cut down the stem near the bottom of the plant. The only successful means of controlling them is by placing a paper collar around your plants, submerged about an inch below ground and rising the same height above ground.

Corn earworms will infiltrate a cob of corn while it's still on the stalk and consume the kernels. Similarly, the tomato fruitworm will chow down on the interior of eggplants, peppers and tomatoes. Try using an insecticide that specifically targets earworms, and make certain to remove the affected plants after harvesting to discourage the pests from returning the following year.

If you observe the leaves wilting on your plants, look for a hole in the stem where a borer has drilled into the plant. Borers are found in the stems of plants such as pumpkins, melons, cucumbers and squash. The only way to eliminate them is to cut them out of the plant. If the borer is discovered near the base, you will have to remove the entire plant and destroy it. Try using insecticide to discourage them.

Beetles are bothersome pests that enjoy munching on leaves. They are able to do an astonishing amount of harm to a vegetable garden, therefore it's essential to eliminate them. It's possible to pluck the beetles off the plants, or spray with an insecticide to destroy them.

Aphids are frequently found in a vegetable garden. Typically, you'll come across bunches of tiny, soft bugs in assorted colors. They come in yellow, gray, red, pink, black, and green. To eliminate aphids, use neem oil or insecticidal soap.
About the Author
Sarah Duke is publisher of The Vegetable Patch, where you'll find lots of great advice for growing your own vegetable garden.
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