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 What's Eating My Plants? Identifying Common Garden Pests

It’s frustrating when your plants show signs of infestation by pests. Nibbled leaves, tracks cut into stalks, winding tracks of brown, glimpses of the pests themselves -- it all adds up to bad news for the gardener. When your plants are looking the worse for wear, it is essential to know the culprit and how to deal with it. Read on to find out what might be eating your plants.

Is it Really a Pest?

Lots of factors can make your plants look unhealthy besides pest infestations. Before you reach for an organic pest repellent, check for other issues like over or under watering, too much or too little light, and fungal or bacterial infections. If your plants are covered with a white film, fuzzy gray patches, or dark spots, the culprit may be a fungus rather than an insect. Slugs and snails may also eat plants require a different approach.

Scouting for Insects and Identifying Damage

Many different pests can harm your plants. In some cases, you'll quickly see the bugs responsible by checking the undersides of leaves and the area surrounding the stem of your plant. Identifying insect eggs in the garden can also help -- if you see clusters of tiny objects or egg sacs under the leaves, getting rid of the larvae will reduce the pests you'll have to deal with.

Spider Mites

keep spider mites away

You’re more likely to see the webbing produced by spider mites than these tiny arachnids. These pests typically live on the undersides of leaves and are difficult to detect with the naked eye. Heavy spider mite infestations cause a lot of damage to plants and produce brown spotting on the leaves.

Aphids

These small, soft-bodied insects are very common in gardens. Usually called greenfly and blackfly, aphids feed on plant sap. As they feed, aphids secrete a sugary fluid called honeydew, which you might notice first. Heavy aphid infestations cause plants to wilt and turn yellow. Leaves may die and drop off. 

Whiteflies

These tiny white-winged insects have a roughly triangular shape. They tend to cluster underneath leaves and their color makes them reasonably easy to spot. Whitefly also produces sticky honeydew, which you might notice first on plant leaves. Heavy whitefly infestations cause plants to wilt and turn yellow. Leaves may die and drop off. 

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are common houseplant pests. They are pink and have a floury, mealy appearance. They can produce white, cottony patches on your indoor and outdoor plants.

Leafrollers

True to their name, leafrollers build nests by rolling up leaves. These little green caterpillars sometimes infest houseplants, but they seem to like fruit trees. You’ll want to look for holes and rolled leaves, where larvae are often found.

Scale

There are many types of scale bugs (over 8,000 species in fact). These flat insects got their name because they look like small scales on the undersides of leaves. You can often find them clinging closely to the plant stems and undersides of leaves. Scale can cause withering a premature leaf drop.

Earth’s Ally Insect Control

Scouting for insects is an important part of pest management. Even the most vigilant gardener will face an infestation from time to time. When infestations occur, a quick knockdown could mean a lot for the health of your plant. Earth’s Ally Insect Control is one tool you can use to kill and repel all the soft-bodied insects on this list.

Formulated with an effective blend of rosemary, clove and peppermint oils, Earth’s Ally Insect Control is an OMRI Listed® insecticide spray, suitable for use in organic gardening and environmentally safe. It can be used on fruits and vegetables up until day of harvest and is always safe for People, Pets & Planet.

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