Stuart Price
Last Updated

If you are an experienced gardener, then the chances are that you might have faced pest issues various times in your life. Because of many garden insects present, gardeners usually struggle to identify them. 

Most gardeners do not know which insect can be beneficial for their garden and which can be harmful. Due to the lack of knowledge, they cannot perform the actions needed to deal with those garden insects. 

However, we should not blame gardeners because identifying garden insects is quite a complicated task. When a gardener notices damage in their garden, the pest is not physically present most of the time, which makes things more difficult. 

However, if you are also struggling with these issues related to identifying garden insects, then do not worry because we will help you in that case. In this article, we will give you practical advice and tips to identify garden pests. We will also let you know how you can get rid of those insects easily.


What are Garden Insects?

Garden pests are those insects that can cause damage to a plant. Though most of the insects do eat plants, they do not cause much damage. However, some insects can be life-threatening for plants. 

These life-threatening insects are usually known as garden pests. Some of the insects can even kill the food source of the plant. Therefore, if you want to keep your garden healthy, you will need to get rid of these garden insects as soon as possible. 

First, you will have to learn about the pests that can make the plant die. Further, it would help to keep in mind that the leaf-munching insects are not very dangerous. 

These leaf-munching insects only cause damage to some leaves of the plants, which you should not worry about. On the other hand, you should also know the pest numbers because more pests can cause more damage. 

If we talk about the popular aphid pest, it is not damaging for many plants. A tiny aphid produces only minimal damage to the plant, which is not something to bother about. But if these tiny aphids come in hundreds, then they can cause significant destruction to the whole garden. 


In that case, you will need to prepare a management strategy to get rid of these pests. Therefore, you should also focus on the number of pests to deal with them effectively. 

Besides this, a single tomato hornworm can damage the whole tomato plant, due to which you will require applying management tactics to kill it. 

These insects can also damage the fruit. Besides, there are some beneficial insects as well that are good for the garden. Therefore, you should learn how to identify them.


Methods to Identify Garden Pests

When it comes to the identification of garden pests, mostly gardeners struggle in that case. The reason behind it is that most gardeners do not know the right approach to identify the garden pests. 

However, if you also do not know how to identify garden pests, do not worry. The following methods will help you identify any pests present in your garden.

Method 1: By Physical Description

The physical appearance is the top thing that will let you quickly know about the pest. Each of the pests has a different shape, size, and colour. By looking at the shape, size, and colour, you can know what kind of pest is present in your lawn. 

Apart from this, you can also learn about the pest by their wing count and leg count. All these physical attributes will make it easier for you to know about the pest. 

However, if you do not understand what a particular pest looks like, you should keep a good insect ID book with you. The insect ID book usually contains various photos of pests. You can compare those photos to the live insect present on your lawn. 

If you do not have an insect ID book, you can get help from some online sources. There are various websites available on the internet that provide complete detail of the pests. You can also visit those websites to learn about any particular pest.

Method 2: By Type of Damage

Identifying the insect by the damage it has done is another unique way. Most of the time, the pests are not present on the plant, but we only notice their damage. 

Most of the pests have a distinctive feeding pattern, due to which you can easily know about them by looking at the damage. However, if you are still struggling to know about the pest even after looking at the damage, you should ask for help from any professional gardener. 

Professional gardeners have usually seen similar types of damage patterns before, due to which it gets easier for them to identify the insects by looking at the damage.


Method 3: By Host Plant

Some pests only live or attack particular types of plants. For example, a leaf-munching insect only attacks a specific plant which will make things easier for you. You can match the plant and the pests that usually attack that particular plant to identify the pest. 

However, this approach will demand you to have some knowledge about the various plants and pests. But if you do not have much understanding of the plant and pests, then do not worry, as you can take help from various books related to insects and plants. 

Therefore, by following any given methods, you can easily identify garden pests within no time. To get more accurate results, you can also combine two or three methods while identifying garden pests. You can also use various chemicals and feed on plants to protect them from insect damage.


Some Common Garden Pests

Lady beetles, parasitic wasps, spider mites, nectar, bug, ground beetles, green lacewing, and a few other natural predators can be harmful to plants. 

Though there are countless garden pests available worldwide, here we will let you know about some of the most common pests that you may come across because of their high availability.



The first popularly known garden pest is the aphids. It is a common insect that you may find in small groups. This pest commonly attacks vegetable plants, especially lettuce and cabbage. 

As compared to many other insects, aphids have a small size. These pear-shaped insects appear in different colours, such as black, grey, and green. However, you may also find aphids in some parts of the world with a red, brown, or yellowish shade.

Furthermore, there are different varieties of aphids as well. You may encounter both non-winged and winged aphids. Aphids usually target various host vegetable plants. Some of the favourite plants of aphids are cabbage, lettuce, and tomatoes

This pest can cause deformed growth. It distorts the plant by sucking plant juices, vegetables, and squash. You may locate aphids on leaf undersides and new plants.

Moreover, if you want to get rid of this insect naturally, try adding more flowering plants to your garden. Make sure that the plant grows small flowers. As aphids do not target such flowering plants so by this, you can get rid of them. 

On the other hand, you can also use a sharp water sprayer to eliminate these insects from plants. One of the easiest types of aphids to deal with is the hand-squishing aphid. Some experts also recommend the use of insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to remove these pests. It can also harm the fruits present on trees.


Asparagus Beetle

Adults’ asparagus beetles are around 1/4 inches long. You can easily identify it via its appearance. The black colour on it with creamy yellow and red marks makes it easier to identify for anyone. The red marks are present behind the head of the asparagus beetle. This pest only attacks asparagus plants.

On the other hand, the asparagus beetle only attacks ferns and spears. After an asparagus beetle attack, you may also notice the browning of foliage. Not only this, but this pest can even reduce the production of next year’s crop, which makes it quite dangerous. 

If you do not want asparagus beetles to invade your asparagus plants, then make sure to clean up fallen leaves and also cut down ferns. Another way to handle the asparagus beetle is by using the floating row cover. 

Keeping the floating row cover on the plants during the harvesting season will help protect them from severe damage. If you notice any larvae on the plant, try removing them with a soft broom. 

It is also suggested to use neem to control the vegetable garden pests. Apart from neem, spinosad-based products are also effective against the asparagus beetle.

Cabbage Worms

Cabbage worms are relatively longer. It is around 1 inch long with light green colour. You may also notice a faint yellow stripe on the cabbage worm. On the other hand, the adult of this pest becomes white to yellowish-white butterflies with various black spots. 

The cabbage worms can target all families of cabbage plants. Common plants affected by cabbage worms are broccoli, brussels sprouts, radish, and turnip. Apart from this, this pest is also dangerous for radish, kohlrabi, and cauliflower plants.

Further, cabbage worms can chew leaves and flower clusters. You may notice various small holes in leaves once the cabbage worm attacks them. To get rid of cabbage worms, you can use birdhouses in gardens. 

Birds like to eat cabbage worms which will help you get rid of these worms naturally. Other than this, you can also try physical control methods to minimize the growth of cabbage worms in gardens. 

You can use a floating row cover to secure plants from this pest. However, ensure to apply the floating row cover during the time of planting. Another effective way to remove caterpillars is by using a hand-picking approach.

Carrot Rust Fly

In comparison to other pests, the carrot rust flies are smaller in size. These are shiny flies with orange colour. You will notice the orange colour on the legs and head of the carrot rust fly. It has tiny larvae with beige-coloured maggots. 

This pest usually aims for vegetable crops. It also lays eggs around vegetable crops such as parsnips, celery, and parsley. If you notice eggs inside the plant, you should remove them. 

Other than this, carrot rust fly also aims for carrots. After attacking the plant, it leaves scarring and tunnels behind. Over time, this damage becomes more prominent; therefore, you should deal with the carrot rust fly as soon as possible. 

You can also protect carrots and other crops with floating row cover. Make sure to use the cover while planting the plant until the harvesting day. Another unique thing about female carrot rust flies is that they find the host plants via smell. 

The smell can attract these species. You can inter-plant carrots with various crops to minimize this smell and make it difficult for carrot rust to locate plants by smell. Some popular crops that we would suggest planting with carrots are onions, chives, and garlic. 

These crops have a stronger smell that will limit the pests from laying eggs or eating the host plant. Another organic way to control the carry rust flies is by nematodes. Adding nematodes into the soil will also help you control larvae.

Colorado Potato Beetle

If we look at the size of the adult Colorado potato beetle, it is around 1/3 inches. It is a rounded pest that is not too much longer. It has a black and tan striped wing, making it easier to identify. 

On the other hand, the larvae are a bit chubby and have a reddish-purple colour. You may also find various black dots on the side of the Colorado potato beetle. This pest can target almost all the plants of the tomato family. 

Some common plants affected by the Colorado potato beetle are eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos. Other than this, this plant also aims for potatoes and tomatoes. Therefore, you should take correct precautions if you want to keep your plants protected. 

The Colorado potato beetle is easier to discover as it is present at the top of the plant. As these pests do not cause harm to humans, you can also hand-pick them. Or you can use spinosad-based organic spray or neem-based insecticides to get effective results against the Colorado potato beetle. 

Besides, spider mites, bees, ground beetle, red spider, snails, bugs, and Japanese beetle are also dangerous for plants. Getting rid of these insects will help you in optimal gardening.

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