This time of year the battle against hungry garden bugs seems endless. Common pests can wreak havoc on garden plants almost overnight, damaging veggies and reducing plant production. Learning a little about these bugs can help you keep them at bay – so you can harvest all those tomatoes, zucchini and squash before the pests do.
- Tomato hornworm. These giant, green caterpillars have a “horn” on their tail end that gives them their name. Their size (they can measure up to 4 inches in length) makes them a serious threat to tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and green fruits because they can defoliate the plant very quickly. Generally, tomato hornworms spend hottest part of the day feeding on the interior of the plant; they’re easiest to spot when they move to the outside at dawn or dusk. Because of their large size, you can hand remove these caterpillars, but their light-green color can make them difficult to see.
- Whitefly. Whiteflies are very small, sucking insects that look like moths. They have two pairs of rounded wings that are covered with a white powder. Whiteflies suck plant juices, feeding on the undersides of leaves, and leave behind “honeydew” on leaves that can encourage the growth of fungal diseases.
- Spider mite. These extremely tiny mites can be red, orange, yellow or green. Even though they’re barely visible, it’s easy to tell if you have a spider mite infestation because you’ll see fine webs all over your leaves. Like whiteflies, spider mites suck plant juices from the under sides of leaves, causing yellow leaf spots and stunted plant growth.
- Aphid. Tiny, green (or red) and pear-shaped with long antennae, aphids suck plant juices out of a wide range of fruits and vegetables, flowers and ornamentals, causing foliage to thicken, wrinkle and turn brown. You can spot aphids on the undersides of leaves, where they often cluster. Unfortunately, they’re not picky – you can find aphids on pretty much any kind of plant.
Keep bug problems around your garden to a minimum by keeping plants clean. Pull weeds, remove dead leaves regularly, and avoid spreading your lawn clippings onto your garden. This time of year, treat your garden weekly or bi-weekly with a good insecticide formulated for use on edibles, like Garden Safe® Brand Multi-Purpose Garden Insect Killer. Spray up to harvest on vegetables or ornamentals to kill listed garden pests on contact.