Imagine you are in your garden picking up the perfect pumpkin to make a pie. You have just bought an iron for a perfect pie and you cannot wait for it to bake and to taste it. But when you look at your pumpkin, what do you know? A larva has been eating out of it. Even if it hasn’t happened to you, if you continue not caring for your garden, it might happen tomorrow.
Having crops can be a beautiful but sweaty business. You might grow vegetables for your family just because you want to eat healthily or you might own a farm and sell the goods you produce. Either way, pests can make a mess and ruin all your hard work.
They can become a bigger problem when you have a large land filled with crops and, if they are destroyed, you can not make any money out of them and you lose all your initial investment. So in this article, we are going to talk about the pests that can cause damage to your garden so that you can take precautions even before you start gardening.
The most common pests that can be dangerous to your garden are caterpillars, aphids, asparagus beetles, cabbage worms, carrot rust flies, colorado potato beetles, cutworms, slugs, and snails.
Aphids are small insects that have a body that has the shape of a pear. They can have many colors, so don’t be surprised if you see a green aphid and then you encounter a black one. They can be yellow, brown, red, and also gray. There are many aphid species, so some aphids have wings and others don’t. This also depends on the life stage they are in.
They like to feed on different kinds of plants, so don’t be surprised if they fill their tummy with cabbage, tomatoes or lettuce. If you have a vegetable garden, you will encounter them at some point feeding on your crops.
They are not solitary insects. They usually feed in vast groups and they will suck the juice out of leaves. That is why your plants may grow deformed. You can get rid of them by applying garlic and hot-pepper repellent spray and you can spray the plants with lots of water. A good idea is to have some of their enemies live in your garden, like lady beetles.
If none of these measures work, or if you want a fast solution to your problem, you can always apply insecticidal soap and get rid of them for good.
Caterpillars, while harmless when it comes to humans, can destroy a lot of plants in your garden. They are practically larvae that feed on leaves and fruits and can be chewing the leaves of your vegetables, ornamental plants and the leaves of trees. They can also be found inside fruits.
As a measure of prevention, you can encourage the presence of their enemies inside your garden or, if they are already present on your crops, you can pick them up by hand.
There are many kinds of cutworms out there. When they become adults, they are night-flying moths. Their larvae can be 2 inches long and can be yellow, brown, green or gray. They like to eat broccoli, cabbage, and tomatoes.
Their larvae are most active at night and they eat the plants at ground level. They can even eat a whole plant if it is small enough. They can also destroy your newly planted seeds by eating their outside tissue.
If you don’t want them to destroy your crops, you can pick them up by hand from below the surface and you can delay plantation, as they are most active during May and June. You can also bait them using cornmeal. Put that near the plants you know they love eating. They cannot digest granules, so they will die after they will eat the cornmeal.
The Colorado potato beetle
The Colorado potato beetle is relatively small. When it reaches adulthood it can become 0.3 inches long. It is round-shaped and it has orange and black stripes. It usually has no more than 10 stripes. Its larvae are quite fatty and are purple with little dots on the sides, black.
They enjoy having a feast on eggplants, potatoes, and tomatoes. Your peppers may be in danger as well. They like to eat the veins of the plants they attack.
To keep them away you should practice crop rotation and regularly clean the garden because they hide in the debris during the winter.
The asparagus beetle
The asparagus beetle is quite funny looking. It has a small black body with beige spots and a little red mark behind his head. Before adulthood, it is green and its head is black. And, of course, its favorite meal is the asparagus plant.
These beetles also live in large groups and they can surprise you with a large infestation. They can cause the asparagus leaves to turn completely brown and can cause damage even to the plants you’ll be growing next year.
To protect your crops you can use floating row covers or you can find the beetle eggs and destroy them. They are black and tiny and you can find them on spears. If you get the larvae off the plants in time, they will be eaten by their natural predators.
To protect your cabbage crops it’s very important to look out for cabbage worms. They have a light green color that makes it hard for you to identify them quickly but they don’t camouflage so well that they become invisible. They have a yellow stripe that is also not that easily visible.
They like to feast on plants from the cabbage family, like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Sometimes they like to invade your radish crops as well as your Brussel sprouts crops. They make small holes inside the plants’ leaves and they can leave your plants without a single leaf if they are in large groups.
To prevent an infestation you can either pick the larvae up by hand or you can use specially made products. You can also try using hot pepper wax as an organic solution.
The carrot rust fly
Everybody knows carrots are good for your health. So if you have carrot crops you should know that they can be in danger if you don’t prevent a carrot rust fly infestation. Carrot rust flies are tiny creatures that can cause a lot of damage. They are black and have orange legs and their head is also orange. As larvae, they are beige maggots.
They affect carrots, parsley, celery, and other similar plants. Carrot rust flies eat the roots of the plants and the damage they make looks like a series of tunnels inside the root.
As a preventive measure, you can delay the plantation of carrots to the first part of June, that is when they have finished their mating cycle, and you can also try rotating your crops.
Slugs and snails
Last but not least, snails and slugs can become a big problem if you don’t prevent them from spreading. The only difference between them is that snails have a portable home, their shell, and slugs don’t carry their home everywhere they go.
The problem with slugs and snails is that they feast on many kinds of vegetables. They attack the leaves of the plants by making holes on the margins or in the center. They come out on rainy days and at night, so it might be hard for you to identify the problem.
But if you do, you can stop watering the crops in the evening and start doing it in the morning, so that the plants are not wet during the night. They enjoy eating wet leaves. You can also use a jar to put them in and get rid of them.
Having a garden and working the land is not enough to have healthy crops. It is important to recognize the pests that might damage your production and try to get rid of them.
Sometimes there are easy ways to keep them away, but sometimes, if you have a severe infestation, it’s important to use specialized products that ensure that you don’t end up with zero vegetables by the end of the season.