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15 Common Garden Pests and Bugs

Pests are one of the most common challenges for new and seasoned gardeners alike. Learn to identify them, which plants they damage, and how to control them organically.

If you have been gardening for a while or thinking of setting up one, then you know that dealing with garden pests is inevitable.  The best part about these garden pests is that you can always find a method to control them. As a result, when they are identified early, then you can end up still having the best harvest in the end.

So, what are some of the common garden pests? Below we look at some of the pests and how you can control them to keep your garden looking good and get the best harvest too.


Aphids are some of the most common pests you can get in different types of vegetable gardens. They are tiny insects with a pear shape. As for the color, they can be green, brown, gray, red, yellow, or black. Some types can have wings others do not. This will depend on their species and the overall life-stage.

Aphids commonly affect vegetable plants such as lettuce, cabbage, kale, tomatoes among others. They will suck the plant juices as a result causing deformed growth.

To deal with aphids, introduce predatory insects in the garden by growing flowering plants in the same garden. You can still remove them by spraying the plants with a steam of water. Insecticides can also be used when other control methods fail.

Asparagus beetle
Asparagus Beetle

They look like any other beetle only that they come with additional creamy yellow spots. There is also an additional red mark behind their head. This pest will mostly affect the asparagus plants. Having a severe infestation of these beetles will lead to the foliage browning. Also, there is a reduction in the amount of harvest you get from the plants.

Keep on checking the plant to identify the pest early enough. This is mostly in the form of small dark eggs on the plant. These can easily be removed and squashed. Once these eggs fall on the ground, it will food for spiders and other insects.

Cabbage worms
Cabbage Worms

These caterpillar worms are 1-inch long and will be light green in color. Adults will turn into yellowish-white butterflies with spots on their wings.

Such pests affect the whole cabbage family. This includes cabbage, kale, turnip, kohlrabi, broccoli, and many more. When they strike, the pests will chew holes into the leaves of these plants. This can lead to complete defoliation in case of a severe infestation.

If you hang birdhouses around the garden, then the birds should have plenty of food to eat. The use of BT-based insecticides also goes a long way to deal with such pests.

Carrot Rust Fly
Carrot Rust Fly

These pests can be identified as small shiny black files that also have an orange head. The adult flies will lay their eggs in different types of vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, celery, and many others. Once the eggs are hatched, then the larvae will start to feed on the roots of the crops. This leads to scarring and tunnels into the plants.

Having beneficial nematodes goes a long way to help with controlling the larvae. You have to make sure to apply the nematodes as instructed to get the most out of them.


These are other type of flies that affect your garden plants. They are tiny files with a white color. Once they infest plants, they leave them with a sticky layer. This is the excrement from the flies. Whenever you touch the plant it has such a sticky honeydew then you know the pests have infested it.

These pests will affect plants such as peppers, citrus, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and others. They will suck the plant juices resulting in weak plants and yellow leaves.

The use of insecticidal soap and horticultural oil are all good to controlling whiteflies. Also, inspect the leaves of the plants while still in the nursery before buying for transplanting.

Tomato hornworms
Tomato Hornworms

The adult hornworms can be identified for being large nocturnal moths. They also have brown or gray wings. As for the hornworms caterpillars, they will have a green color with white stripes. The spike coming out of their posterior should be the reason they get the name hornworms.

These pests will commonly affect the tomato family. This includes the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, and tobacco.

Hornworms leave dark pellets of their excrement behind. They will also leave you with damaged leaves that will affect the plant foliage. Inspect the plants more often to identify them early to control them. Use BT based and spinosad insecticides for effective control.

Squash vine borers
Squash Vine Borers

These pests are black and red moths that resemble large wasps. At the larvae stage, they are white chubby caterpillars. They tend to affect the cucumber family of plants. This includes pumpkins, cucumbers, gourds, melons, and winter squash.

Once they infest the plant, you will see the plant quickly wilting. Look for holes in the stems to understand the level of infestation into the plants.

It is recommended that you spray insecticidal soap on the stem to help with smothering of the eggs. You should be able to control them easily once you identify them early.

Squash bugs
Squash Bugs

They are probably the hardest pests to control in your garden. The squash bugs have oval bodies with a dark brown color. The nymphs on the other hand will be gray and not have wings. Mostly, you will find them feeding in groups same as laying eggs.

These pests will commonly affect the cucumber family. This includes zucchini, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, and squash.

Squash bugs will suck the plant juices thanks to having a needle-like mouthpart. Then the damaged leaves will turn to yellow and die. As a preventative measure, it is recommended that you plant the resistant crop varieties or rotate crops.

Snails and slugs
Snails and Slugs

No one loves the look of slugs or snails, especially around their plants in the garden. Snails have a shell while slugs do not. That is the main difference. Depending on the species, you can get them being gray, black, brown, or tan in color. We all know just how they will leave a lot of slime trail wherever they pass.

As for the plants they affect, you will find them almost in all young seedling gardens. As a result of their infestation, they leave irregular holes in the leaves. They tend to feed at night or during the rainy days.

There are many ways to control them, but the use of slug baits is common. Make sure the active ingredient in the bait is iron phosphate.

Mexican bean beetles
Mexican Bean Beetles

These beetles resemble ladybugs only that they have a copper color. They also have 16 black spots. As for their larvae, they will be yellow with soft spines. As the name suggests, they will tend to affect all bean types. This includes green, runner, soy, lima, snap, among others.

Once they infest the plants, they will eat the leaf tissue to the veins. Also, they can feed on flowers and beans too. You should find them mostly on the underside of the leaves.

If you plant lots of flowering plants, they will end up attracting beneficial wasps that will feed on the beetle larvae. Also, using hot pepper wax is good for effective control of the bean beetles.


They are simply flies whose larvae will feed on the insides of the plant tissues. You will find that these pests affect many plants. This includes beets, blueberries, spinach, and chard.

Once the larvae are in your plants, you will notice tunnels into the plant tissues. Also, you will see lines on the leaves suggesting there are pests eating them.

It will be best to cut off the leaves where the tunnels are located during the growing season. This helps to prevent another generation of same pests.

Flea beetles
Flea Beetles

These are very small brown or black beetles. They also love to move quickly and still hope just like a flea. Many plants can be hosts to these beetles, but the most common include radish, corn, eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes.

These flea beetles will make small holes into the foliage of the plants. Note that their larvae mostly live underground and thus would easily consume the plant roots. As a preventive measure, you might want to practice crop rotation.


The adult cutworms will have a brown color and easy to identify. As for the caterpillar larvae, they are about 2 inches in length and curl to form a C-shape once disturbed. These pets love the young seedlings. You should find them mostly in tomatoes, kale, cabbage, broccoli, and others.

These cutworms will sever the seedlings easily at the ground level. They simply chew the outer stem tissue. You are likely to see your seedlings wilt or several severed seedlings. This is a clear sign of cutworms in the garden.

Crop rotation is a nice way of keeping the pests from infesting all the time. Using beneficial nematodes also help with controlling the pests from eating your seedlings.

Cucumber beetles
Cucumber Beetles

These are bright yellow beetles with yellow stripes or spots. Their larvae are not ease to see as they live underground. These beetles affect the cucumber family. The common hosts include corn, beans, and several types of vegetables.

The adult beetles will make holes in the leaves and flowers. You will also find that they transmit bacterial wilt once they infest the plants.

As a way of preventing them from your garden, plant bacterial wilt-resistant plants. The use of spinosad-based organic pesticides are also good to deal with these beetles.

Colorado potato beetle
Colorado Potato Beetle

These beetles are identified for being rounded with tan and black strip wing covers. Their larvae on the other hand is reddish-purpose in color with black dots in rows on the side. The pests are known for affecting the tomato family plants. This includes potatoes, peppers, tomatilos, eggplants, and tomatoes.

These beetles will skeletonize the foliage all the way to the leaf veins. They tend to eat mostly at the top of the plant.

If you want to prevent them, clean up your garden each year and also rotate crops early. The neem-based insecticides are also good for dealing with them effectively.


Well, from the list above, you just see how many pests you are likely to encounter if you have a garden. There are still many more pests but these are the most common. By following the prevention methods we have listed in the guide, you should end up with a pest free garden. Once you control the pests, then you should enjoy come harvest time from your garden.

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