Green horn worm that will destroy your tomatoes overnight!
Bugs and Pests,  Grow

Identifying Common Garden Pests and Eco-friendly Bug Control

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Get help identifying common vegetable garden pests with pictures so you can use natural bug control options this garden season.

Are you frustrated your garden peas are being overrun by tiny green bugs? Ready to give up growing squash because of relentless pests? 

Before you throw in the towel, I will walk you through some of the common pests that may be plaguing your garden plot. But also how to classify what’s bugging you so it will show up on google search. 

In this article we will cover

  1. A method to identify pests to get images to populate what you are trying to identify
  2. A list of common garden pests
  3. How to naturally and effectively treat infestations

How to manage garden pests you can’t see or know the names to what’s bugging you

The first step when dealing with a pest problem is to get eyes on the problem. Sounds like a no brainer, but sadly there are some bugs that you’ll never see until infection sets in. But if you can see the problem before it becomes too big, you are well on your way to combating plant problems. Start by taking a closer tool at what is happening to your plats. 

Ways to identify adult, larvae or eggs so google will help you get results for your pest problem

So you’ve noticed a potential bug problem in your garden, but what if you don’t know what is causing the damage?

Since there are thousands of bug species rather than trying to learn all the types, I want to share a method to collect the information needed to idenfity a bug so you can use search engines like Google or gardening books so find the name, thus treatment methods.

A simple method will require you to gather as many characteristics as possible so you can start searching. To collect this information I like to use a 3×5 card. Call me old school but the process of writing really helps me sort through my thoughts and avoids backtracking.

You don’t necessarily have to use a 3×5 card but its small, easy to file and I have a suggestion if you keep reading for making your own bug guide for your area. Just keeping reading 🙂

Keeping the 3×5 cards will help log garden pests for your area so you can do the research once but can be used create your own personalized reference book. This system is great because you can print off the bug picture from the example in your garden or google/garden magazine/book search, and add the 3×5 card to a binder. I have found some clear page protectors with pockets to be an excellent organizer but you could use an old scrap book from the thrift store. 

Once you have your 3×5 card, pad of paper or garden journal ready, you will need to answer the following questions to have efficient information for your search.

1) what area is being affected? Soil, leaves stem or whole plant. You will get much farther in your googling if you can pinpoint the biggest problem. Sometimes you will have several, but start with the most obvious.

2) Do you see any eggs, adult bugs or droppings? Can you visually see a bug, egg or larvae? If so, get a picture and note whether it’s a type of worm, flying creature, beetle or something else. If droppings are the only evidence, well write down color, approximate size and location. Are they on the plant, scattered all over or in a neat pile underneath?

3) What does the damage look like? You’ll need to note what all the damage entails. The color, size of damage or visual problems. For example are leaves going missing? Is the plant shriveling up? Are you suffering from leave spots that are black, white or orange? In order to deal with garden pests you must first get a good understanding of what area of the plant is being affected but what features make it different. 

Identification Chart for the most common garden pests

So I want to share a chart with the most common garden bugs that you don’t want to keep around. Yes, there are beneficial bugs for the garden like pollinators and bugs that actually eat the “bad” bugs.

To keep things simple I will only include adult bugs since they are far easier to identify because rarely does anyone notice eggs laid in the soil or tiny sacks under leaves.

When trying to identify eggs are larvae, the process is complicated. But with the 3×5 card you previously filled out with characteristics, you can begin eliminating the basics.

Below are the top vegetable garden pests that plague your favorite varieties of home grown produce.

If you like a printable version of this you can subscribe and get 7 Natural bug busters printable guide with identification chart so you can print and add to your garden journal to make it easier. 

Subscribe here for printable download!

Treating the top 3 bug infestations plaguing the hobby gardener

  1. Aphids
  2. Squash bugs
  3. Ants

Treating Aphids, squash bugs or ants naturally doesn’t mean less effective. Most people think if they have an aphid infestation they have to turn to harsh chemicals that leave vegetable plants covered in sprays that make harvesting produce inedible.

Before you pull out plants that seem too far gone, try these easy natural remedies and just see what happens. 

  1. Garlic and dish soap spray
  2. Neem oil 
  3. Diatomaceous Earth

Squash bug and aphid natural bug treatment

One of my favorite seed company’s, MIGardener made a public announcement with the ratios for their neem and essential oil bug spray. MIGardener wanted to keep the ratios open to the public so you can access a natural solution to Squash bugs or aphids.

This was music to my ears!

You can now treat pests with a proven method. It’s a rather sad story why MIGardner published his ratios, but know that these are merely suggestions from home gardeners wishing to share how they personally treated a problem. The FDA does not regulate these methods so take them as old folk remedies if you will. 

  • 1 part peppermint oil
  • .5 part basil oil
  • .25 parts lemongrass oil
  • Neem oil

Again, these are not my ratios or methods. All credit goes to MIGardener seed company. So if you want to support them since their transparency is so very admirable, their store can be found here.

Side note: I LOVE MIGardener Seeds! I recently placed an order and shipping was fast, seeds were in stock and germination was fantastic!

At home remedy for aphids or other garden pests

Garlic and dish soap spray

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon dish soap
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Add ingredients and spray all over plants, getting underside of leaves where bugs hide!

How to apply Diatomaceous Earth

Grab an empty spice jar, coffee can or even a tin can. Punch holes in the bottom and add the diatomaceous earth powder to container. Dust plants lightly or heavily depending on infestation. Works great for aphids, Japanese beetles, grasshoppers or pretty much ANYTHING!

This natural bug solution works because the powder is actually microscopically razor sharp. So when small insects crawl through the dust their exoskeleton is cut, causing them to dry out and die.

Dusting plants with diatomaceous earth is a natural solution so common household and garden pests.

Before you worry about handling, the power is completely safe to touch! I do still wear gloves just so when I am dusting I can touch the plants and not touch the bugs. But you could still grab a handful and scatter by hand if need be. I have found though my hand gets sweaty and makes the powder get sticky. (it happens)

Sounds harsh? Well, when you are trying to feed your family with your garden harvest desperate times call for desperate measure!

Are you ready to keep your garden protected from bugs?

I am a firm believer that prevention is the best method when it comes to gardening. Because a well balanced garden is easier to maintain. However, I have found its alot harder to get to that point than you may realize.

So before you get discouraged, here are a few tips to invite the good bugs that will fest on pests!

Make a bug hotel for bees and ladybugs to encourage them to move in

plant marigolds since they repel alot of bad bugs but are great for pollinators

Mulch! Mulch! Mulch! Keep soil borne disesase at bay by mulching so there is a barrier between soil and plant leaves. Leaf mold and blight are soil bornse diseases taht can be reduced if you add straw, pine shaving, cardboard, shredded paper etc..

Here is a read you may enjoy on How to Improve Garden Soil

Hopefully you got some new information for how to treat garden pest naturally, along with garden pest identification. I hope you subscribe so you can get the printable version of the chart and ratios guide that comes with 7 Bug Busters!

If you have any tricks for organic bug control I would LOVE to hear them! Drop me a comment below or head over to my Facebook page and share you input.

P.S. Here’s the link again to subscribe for the instant download garden pests identification AND natural recipes for pest control! Only this link will give you access to the download!

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