A guide to the bugs eating your garden plants

The summer garden season is in full swing, but finding crawling critters and hole-filled leaves among your delicious produce can put a damper on your harvest season. If pests are eating away at your garden goods, here’s a guide on how to identify and banish those unwanted bugs. 

First of all, the culprits might not be bugs at all. If your leaves have distinct 45-degree bites, you could be dealing with rabbits and jagged edges on leaves and stems is a sign of deer nibbles. You may need better fencing or netting or a natural rabbit and deer repellant. Here are some other things you should keep an eye out for. 

  1. Holes in your leaves: Caterpillars, grasshoppers, and beetles all leave holes or jagged edges on leaves. To eliminate these, pick them off and dispose of them or pick up an organic insecticide at a local nursery. 
  2. Sap suckers: If you’re not seeing holes, but rather blanched spots on leaves, you are probably dealing with scale, spider mites, whiteflies, azalea lace bugs, or stink bugs which suck out sap and leave behind a sticky residue. Soaps and oils are effective on the small, soft-bodied pests in this group, but you might need a heartier natural pesticide for stink bugs. 
  3. Borers: These bugs, such as beetles and caterpillars, leave behind holes in the stems of woody plants. These are especially damaging as they can kill entire plants, but they are most attracted to already weakened plants. To avoid attracting borers, keep plants as healthy as possible by avoiding stresses such as not watering or wounding plants while pruning.
  4. Root feeders: These bugs, such as grubs, show up in holes in corms that hug the surface of the ground in plants such as iris. Digging iris up every few years and thinning out the beds, moving extra plants to new beds, or sharing them with friends is the best way to avoid these pests. 

It’s important to remember that not all bugs are bad. Many crawling critters are very beneficial for the health of your garden. For example, ladybugs are great for eating aphids that use your precious plants as an afternoon snack. Hopefully, this guide helps you better identify and address whatever bugs or bunnies may be rooting their way through your yard.

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