In our last article and podcast we talked about insects that were beneficial to your home vegetable garden. Unfortunately not all insects are good, in fact most are bad. They will eat your vegetables, destroy the stems, tear up the leaves and even worse, bore themselves into the plants you are trying to grow.
You can arm yourself to protect your garden if you can identify them and come up with a remedy before the harmful insect problem turns into a complete infestation. Here are four common harmful insects that you will encounter in most home vegetable gardens.
These bugs are the most common and with good reason. They eat everything! Nothing is immune from an aphid. They come in a wide range of colors and sizes but are in large part all shaped the same, sort of pear-like. Aphids will form their population on one plant and when that population increases in size to the point where the plant is overwhelmed with them, some of the aphids will form wings and fly off to the next plant where the process starts over. As you can see if you do not take the necessary steps early enough, you could have an infestation. Use yellow sticky traps and neem oil for immediate solutions, but if you want a long term solution start attracting ladybugs. They eat aphids!
They will affect mostly your corn and tomato crops as well as a few other vegetables, but they can do a tremendous amount of damage. They are about an inch long and are usually green to brown in color with dark stripes. They feed on stems, leaves and the fruit of your plants. They don’t spread as fast as aphids, but can do equal damage. Immediate solutions include a Btb spray, and for long term get some Trichogramma wasps in your garden as soon as possible.
Cucumbers, melons and squash are three of the many plants that these pesky critters will go after if you do not take care of them early enough. They are only about a ¼” in size, but they can wreak a tremendous amount of havoc on your home vegetable garden. They have yellow wings with black spots or stripes and their larvae are whitish grubs. An immediate solution is to spray with neem oil soap, however, if you want to get rid of them, you need to start by destroying the larvae in the ground. Milky spores and beneficial nematodes will do the trick. Visit your local garden center or co-op for more information.
Tomatoes and cucumbers are the two most popular items that people grow in the home vegetable garden and therefore white flies are well known to many. They love to feed on these two plants, among others, so if you aren’t careful, you will become a victim to them. They are very tiny and as their name implies, they are white in color. Using yellow sticky traps will help immediately as will a garlic spray, insecticidal soap and neem oil. For long term prevention, attract ladybugs and lacewings to your garden. They will feed on the white fly.
To better protect your fruits and vegetables in your garden from harmful insects, it is best to know what they are so you can plan out your attack and prevention. These are just 4 of the many you will encounter. Take the necessary steps to start protecting your harvest today.