Common Pests in the Vegetable Garden

Below is a list of common pests that you may find among your vegetable garden.

Corn Earworm - This caterpillar feeds on corn, beats, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes and many other garden plants. These caterpillars are 2” long when full grown with light and dark stripes going lengthwise along a greenish-brown body.  They feed for about four weeks, then fall to the ground and burrow about 4” into the soil to rest for 2 weeks. Then they emerge as greenish-brown moths about 1 ½” wide.

Corn Earthworm Corn Earthworm

Slugs - Slugs only survive where there is moisture. They leave a slimy, shiny mucous trail on leaves which is easy to see as they usually feed at night. They attack many different types of plants and devour young shoots and chew round holes in larger leaves and some fruits (tomatoes and squash). There are several ways to reduce the number of slugs in your garden.

Slug Slug

Maggots - These are small worm like creatures which are the immature stages of flies. They are very destructive on many crops such as carrots, cabbage and onion.

Cutworms - Cutworms feed on many garden vegetable plants but they especially prefer beans, cabbage, corn and tomatoes. They chew through plant stems at the soil surface or feed on buds, leaves or fruit, depending on what is available. Cutworms are larvae of moths. They are about 1 ½” long when full grown, brownish in color and have a smooth body. They feed on plant material for several weeks and then burrow into the soil to pupate.

Aphids - Aphids are small pear shaped insects and colors vary to include any shade of brown, black, green or yellow. They may or may not have wings. Aphids attack almost every type of plant and damage is done as they suck vital juices from the plant. If the aphid population is severe, the plant will usually collapse and a sticky substance (honeydew) will be evident on leaves. You may also find black mold accompanying the sticky honeydew.  Ladybugs are natural predators of aphids.

Whiteflies - If you shake your plants and a white cloud of insects scatters about, you most definitely have a whitefly problem. Whiteflies are 1/30 of an inch long with 2 pairs of white wings. They are commonly found on the undersides of leaves of tomato, bean and pepper although they do sometimes attack other crops. They suck juices from the plant and leave behind a sticky secretion. The damage is quite similar to that caused by aphids and may cause fruit or vegetables to be of small size and have poor color. Leaves also become yellow and die. Check plants carefully and often.

Leafhoppers - Leafhoppers frequently attack beans, beets, celery, eggplant, lettuce, pepper, potatoes and tomatoes. They are green, yellow or brown wedge-shaped insects less than ½” long. The adult form has wings while the young larvae does not. Leafhoppers cause the plant leaves to become spotted, turn white and then yellow. They suck sap from the plants and also spread virus and diseases from plant to plant.

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