Dealing With Garden Insect Pests

Plants need insects for pollination, so no garden should be insect-free, but there's no denying some insects are garden pests. Learning to identify which insects to worry about and which to welcome is part of the learning process of gardening. Here are a handful of common garden insects. Some are garden pests, some are beneficial and some are just passing through. Always assess the situation before spraying. But when you must treat the problem, the info offered here will be helpful.

  • 01 of 05
    Ladybug standing out from the crowd on leaf
    Getty Images/Anthony Lee

    Not all bugs are bad. Most gardeners know that ladybugs or lady beetles are voracious aphid eaters and very welcome in the garden. What many don't know is that the in the nymph stage, these beetles are almost unrecognizable and they look like something you don't want on your plant's leaves. Learning to recognize the good guys is an important part of integrated pest management in the garden.

  • 02 of 05
    Trails of leaf miner insect larva on columbine leaves. Illinois. USA.
    Ed Reschke / Getty Images

    Squiggly lines through a plant's leaves usually signal the work of leaf miners. Leaf miners are the larva of various insects. Eggs that were laid on the leaves hatch and the larva burrow inside the leaf tissue, feeding their way through the leaf and leaving a transparent trail of where they've been. Some plants, like columbine, are especially prone to leaf miners. Gain some tips for controlling or even avoiding leaf miner damage.

  • 03 of 05
    Icerya Purchasi On Leaf

    Marcos Del Mazo/EyeEm/ Getty Images

    Scale insects look like little bumps along the stems of plants and are often mistaken for some type of disease. They adhere themselves to the plant and suck on the plant's juices, drying it out and causing serious damage. There are thousands of species of scale and each type has their favorite plants to feast on, so many plants can become infected with scale. Mealy bugs, those fussy, cotton covered insects often found on stems and in the stem and leaf joints, are in the scale family. Here's how to get rid of scale insects on plants.

  • 04 of 05
    Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) on partly eaten rose leaf
    Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) on partly eaten rose leaf. Getty Images/Zen Rial

    Is there any garden pest as reviled as the Japanese beetle? As an adult, it can defoliate plants in an afternoon. As a grub, it destroys your lawn. And there alarming rate of reproduction makes matters even worse. The pheromone traps that are often sold to control adult Japanese beetles in your yard were actually developed to monitor the size of the Japanese beetle population: meaning they were designed to attract every beetle in the area, which is exactly what you don't need. Find some better suggestions here.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05
    Spittle Bug
    AlasdairJames / Getty Images

    Every now and then you'll see a clump of foam on one of your plants that looks like someone spit on it. Close -- more likely it's the spittlebug at work. The actual bug is very tiny and he's hiding from predators under this mass of froth. It fools the birds, but it's a red flag for gardeners. Don't let it worry you. Spittlebugs do little damage to the plant and they'll be on their way in no time flat. Curious about what's in the foam? Read on for more about spittlebugs.