Identifying Common Plant Pests

It isn’t surprising that Mother Nature has come up with all sorts of ways to torment your plants. Forget about the diseases that can overwhelm them. There are more than enough bugs crawling around that can be considered tormentors too. To get rid of them you need to know what they are. Here are ways that you can identify pesky bugs that may be invading your garden.

Japanese Beetle
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Bag Worm
(Courtesy: Ian Jacobs at









· Aphids. Sap sucking, wing insects, Aphids are a variety of colors including green, black, yellow, or red. They feed on ornamental plants and stunt their growth causing the leaves to curl and turn yellow. The honeydew buildup that results from their assault can build up and cause black, sooty mold. Ants are then attracted to the honeydew, causing more issues.
· Bag Worms. These tiny plant pests produce bags that they deposit on to various species of trees. Bagworms can defoliate a tree if there is a heavy infestation of them.
· Cabbage Worms. These plant pests are green, hairy and appear velvety with a row of light spots on their backs. They feed on vegetable plant leaves resulting in large, irregular holes. They excrete greenish-brown pellets. After the insect feeds on a plant for two to three weeks, the evolving larvae produce a silk thread and attach to the plant. In their cocoon, they transform to white moths with one to four black spots on their wings.
· Cicadas. An insect that makes a loud buzzing noise, Cicadas produce sacks that hang down from tree branches. Hints that you have an infestation include splits in twigs where they have laid eggs.
· Colorado Potato Beetles. These yellow plant pests are a half-inch long and have black brown and yellow stripes on their wings. They feed on and skeletonize vegetables including potatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes. Female beetles lay clusters of bright yellow-orange eggs on the undersides of the leaves, which host slug-like, humpbacked larvae. When the eggs hatch, the larvae will shed many times as they feed.
· Corn Earworms. This tiny critter loves to eat the tip area of corn and assault tomatoes, fruit and bean pods. They produce brown excrement around their feeding areas. The young earworm is hairy, green and has a black head. Mature earworms are 1-1/2-inches long and can appear brown, pale green, or light pink in color with thorny microspines. The adult moths are yellow and lay small, white eggs on foliage and in the corn silk.
· Cucumber Beetles. These bugs are yellow with black stripes or spots. The larvae are white and thin. As adults, they feed on leaves, soft fruit, shoots, and blossoms. The larvae consume the roots causing the plant to become vulnerable to wind. These beetles feed on cucumber, cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkin, winter and summer squash, and gourds.
· Flea Beetles. These tiny green or black beetles jump and love to assault a wide assortment of plants including fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals leaving pinholes in leaves.
· Japanese Beetles. These beetles are plant pests that are known to skeletonize leaves of a wide variety of edible and ornamental plants. They have iridescent copper wings and a green-metallic thorax and head and white hair underneath and along the sides of the abdomens. Their eggs are white or cream colored and the larvae appear slightly curved and are gray-white in color with brown heads.
· Lace Bugs. These plant pests are gray in color and have lace-like wing covers. Their assault results in tiny, light-gray spots on the upper part of fruit and ornamental tree leaves that can become speckled. When they feed they leave dark brown honeydew excrement.
· Leafhoppers. This tiny wedge-shaped critter can fly or jump when disturbed and are green, brown and yellow in color depending on the species. They eat edible and ornamental plants causing leaves to lose color, brown and become spotted and leave behind black excrement.
· Mexican Bean Beetles. These plant pests are copper in color and have eight black spots on each wing cover. They skeletonize the leaves of beans, black-eyed peas, soybeans, cowpeas, mung beans, and clover. The larvae have a spiny light yellow appearance. The eggs are yellow and are clustered on leaves.
· Scale. Found on the stems of plants and the underside of leaves, scales are circular, armor-like insects that look like they are a part of the plant. They feed on plant sap and create honeydew that attracts ants.
· Spittlebugs. These brownish-gray insects can hop and fly and produce a foamy substance that looks like spit. They cover leaves and gather in the forks of stems and attack herbs, pecans, and strawberries.
· Squash Bugs. These tiny plant pests are flat in shape and dark brown or black in color. They gather at the base of plants or under dead foliage. They feed on plant sap resulting in yellow spots on leaves. The leaves commonly wilt, blacken, die and fall off later. The eggs are long and yellow.
· Stink Bugs. Brown, green, or spotted, this bug is shaped like a shield. It feeds on a variety of edible plants including various types of fruit trees and some ornamentals. Fruits pucker, scar and suffer cavities as a result of their attack. The eggs are light red to yellow-red and appear on the underside of leaves.
· Tent Caterpillars. They attack various species of trees and shrubs and defoliate plants and stunt their growth. The adult caterpillar is hairy and dark brown with a yellow-spotted stripe along the spine. The insect produces tent-like egg casings that encircle twigs during the winter months.
· Thrips. This pest is small and slender and brown, black or yellow in color and has fringed wings. They assault fruit trees and ornamental plants and suck on them resulting in silvering and spots on the leaves. They also produce black, shiny flecks of excrement.
· Tomato Hornworms. They feed on vegetable crops including tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplant, have posterior horns, and grow up to 4-inches in length. The adults are large moths that appear at dusk. They leave a large amount of black excrement on the ground near plants.

Once you have identified the bugs that are attacking your plants, do some research on the Internet to determine the best way to get rid of them.

About Robert Janis

Written by Robert Janis for LawnEq - Your specialists for Lawn Mower Parts and Small Engine Parts. We offer genuine premium OEM parts for Land Pride, Toro and many more dependable manufacturers.