**This post contains affiliate links.
There are more and more people trying their hand at gardening each and every year. It is wonderful to see people take time out of their busy lives and learn how to grow their own food. Growing a garden is a great family activity and something we have done for years. There is nothing more satisfying then preparing a dinner with food that you worked hard to grow yourself. But, gardening is not all easy-peasy. There are bugs and pests that you have to deal with constantly. If you are trying your hand at gardening and have a hard time telling which bugs are good versus which are bad, then do I have a post for you! Here are 10 of the Worst Garden Bugs that you may see in your gardens and what to do with them once you find them.
Aphids are the most common garden bug that you might come across. They are pear shaped and come in a variety of colors ranging from green to pink and they are found on the stems and underside of leaves. Aphids like to suck the sap out of the plants, which in turn can stunt the growth and possibly kill your plants.
Aphids multiply quickly so finding them early is key. To rid yourself of these pesky bugs you will want to spray the plants with dish soapy water or vegetable oil. Another idea is to also head to your local garden store and purchase some Ladybugs, which like to feast on the aphids.
Colorado Potato Beetle
Colorado Potato Beetles are big round orange/yellow beetles with narrow black strips down their bodies. Their eggs are yellow/orange and are always laid in clusters with their larva being red with black heads. Colorado Potato Beetles will attack Potatoes, Tomatoes, Peppers, Egg Plant and Petunias. These beetles will defoliate your plants which can kill your young plants.
If you come across Colorado Potato Beetles on your plants you will want to pick them off and put them in a bucket of soapy water. Also check around for and remove any larva and eggs that you come across. Ladybugs will also be your friend if you have Colorado Potato beetles. They will eat the eggs and larva.
Cabbage Loopers will attack any of your cabbage family plants including cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, turnups, mustard and collards.
Cabbage Loopers are not detrimental to plants but will chew annoying holes through all your leaves. If you come across these pesky inch worms you will want to toss them into a bucket of soapy water and remove any of their eggs that you come across. Eggs are light green. Keeping your garden free of weeds will also go a long ways in controlling them.
Tomato Hornworms are interesting looking to say the least. You will know them by the horns sticking out of their backsides as well as the white ‘v’ shaped lines across their little green bodies. They are also the largest caterpillars you will probably find in your garden and eventually will become sphinx months or hawk moths also known in the valley as hummingbird moths. Hornworms are found on tomatoes, egg plants, pepper and potato plants. You will likely see the damage before you find these green caterpillars as they blend into the leaves very well. But once you find them, you will want to do the same as the above bugs. Put them into a bucket of soapy water and find and remove any eggs.
Cutworms are best found at night or by scraping off the dirt around your plants by hand until your find these curled up bronze colored worms. They eventually become night moths and will only come out at night to feast on the leaves and stems of your plants. The cutworms will attack the base of your stems and young seedlings by chewing right through them and knocking them off at the ground. They will also climb up big plants and eat the foliage and shoots.
The best way to handle cutworms is to take preventative measures. Remove all of the dead foliage and weeds from your soil that might be sheltering larva. Another way to manage them is to come out at night when they are feeding and rid yourself of all of them that you find. You may have to do this a few nights in a row to make sure you get them all.
Earwigs are nasty looking bugs with scary looking pinchers. Luckily they are more interested in eating your plants then they actually are in pinching you. A surprising fun fact is that Earwigs have wings. However, it is very unusual to see them fly. They run fast and are usually nocturnal and will take off running as soon as they see the light of day. During the day you can usually find Earwigs living in your mulch or under rocks. Earwigs often will chew holes through fruit and leaves and also eat young plants.
If you find you have an over abundance of Earwigs and need to take care of them, then you may want to try the we newspaper in a cereal box trick. If you put a damp newspaper in a cereal box they will likely be attracted to it to bed down in during the day. Each day you can dispose of the cereal box and in turn they will go away. You can also use pesticides such as diatomaceous earth. However, you may want to rethink this unless the Earwigs are causing a huge problem. The truth is that Earwigs are bad bugs when they are in large numbers and eating on your plants. But, in small numbers they are great garden bugs as they are omnivores and will also eat larva, eggs, mites, aphids and other unwanted garden bugs.
Squash Bugs are my nemesis. They are truly the worst bugs to find in your garden (in my opinion). As you might have guessed you will mostly find squash bugs in your squash plants such as summer squash, zucchini and pumpkin but they can also effect watermelon, cucumbers and other vine type plants. Squash Bugs are known for injecting toxins into your plants and sucking the moisture out of your plant which will make your whole vines wilt, turn brown and die. You will know you have squash bugs if you see the large nasty looking things on your squash plants. You can also find their eggs and nymphs on the underside of your leaves. The eggs will be brown and clustered and the nymphs will look like tiny black spidery things.
I will admit that Squash Bugs can be one of the hardest bugs to get rid of in your garden. However, it can be done. Firstly you will want to scrap off any eggs that you find under the leaves. The eggs hatch every 10 days so you will want to check back for more eggs often. Once you see adult Squash Bugs you will want to thrown them into a bucket of dish soapy water to kill them. You can squash them but we recommend the bit of soapy water instead. Squash Bugs tend to stink very badly when smashed. Also to prevent getting them in the future, you will want to make sure you practice crop rotation and do not use straw or any other cool mulch around your plants that they can hide in. Lastly, you will need to pull up any dead vines in the fall and do not let them over winter in your yard.
Once you see a Squash Bug in your garden you will need to check for them DAILY!
Slugs are another pest that is damaging to your garden. They seem to eat everything and a family of slugs can devastate your whole garden in a matter of days. They are one of the biggest pests because they don’t just attack the plant and the foliage but they also attack the fruit.
To stop the slugs from getting to your plants you can surround your pants with crushed egg shells that will provide a barrier. You can also mix salt and water in spray bottle to spray them with once you find them. If you don’t like going out at night to spray them you can also spread diatomaceous earth around your garden to kill off any slugs. Just remember that diatomaceous earth will kill your good garden bugs as well.
Another idea is to attract toads to your yard. It seems like everyone in the valley has a toad in their yards. Toads are a great way to rid yourself of slugs without having any damage to your garden.
Japanese Beetles like slugs with attack pretty much anything. They are most common in Roses, beans, grapes, raspberries, plums, apples, cherries, birch and elm. Although there is over 300 plant species that they will attack and eat. They are known for “skeletonizing” the leaves of your plants and flowers.
Just as with most bugs above, you will want to pick the Japanese Beetles off your plants and toss them into a bucket of soapy water. You can also take preventative measures in the fall to make sure that the grubs that will later become Japanese Beetles do not winter over in your yard.
Spider Mites are so tiny that you will likely need a magnifying glass to see them. They can be found in your outdoor gardens as well as inside on your indoor plants. Spider Mites are actually not even an insect but are in fact an arachnid. That might sound scary but they are harmless to humans so it’s not as bad as it might seem. Spider Mites will suck the sap right out of your plants which will cause them to turn brown and dry up.
To find Spider Mites you will want to look closely at your plants for webbing that looks much like a spider web. The webbing will be covered with tiny spider mites. You can also spread neem oil onto the leaves where you see the mites and their eggs. This will suffocate the adults and prevent most (if not all) of the eggs from hatching. Before you add neem oil it is also a good idea to take your hose and spray off as many of the Spider Mites as you can. This will help to rid yourself of the problem quickly.
Tip -Spider Mites thrive off of plants that are not doing well. So keep your plants well watered and thriving and you will have less of a chance of Spider Mites sticking around.
We hope you learned a lot about the Worst Garden Bugs and how to rid yourself of them! Hoping your 2020 Growing Season is incredible this year!