7 Common Garden Pests (And How to Get Rid of Them)

7 Common Garden Pests (And How to Get Rid of Them)

Garden pests are an issue for everyone; from the backyard gardener to industrial-scale agricultural operations.

While the costs of insect destruction and prevention are hard to measure, it’s estimated that 10% of the GNP in large, industrialized countries is spent combating garden pests.

If you have a garden of any size, you’ve probably encountered some of these bugs in the garden that can devastate your crops.

An important first step in eradicating garden bugs is being able to recognize the signs of their presence.

Let’s take a look at seven of the most common garden pests and what you can do to get rid of them.

1. Black Vine Weevil

Also known as the taxus weevil, the black vine weevil feeds on a number of different types of ornamental plants.

It’s considered the most devastating of the root weevils in Canada and the northern U.S.

If you’re looking for an organic means of getting rid of the vine weevil, consider applying nematodes as a soil drench in order to control the vine weevil’s larval stage.

Otherwise, there are a number of different pesticides you can use at the first sign of feeding.

Vine weevils can wreak havoc on both indoor and outdoor plants.

If you’re experiencing vine weevils or any other insect inside your home, it’s important to understand the difference between pest control and extermination.

2. Striped Cucumber Beetle

This yellow and black striped beetle feeds on plants in the cucurbits family, including cucumbers, squash, pumpkin, and watermelons.

While the adults feed on the leaves, the larvae feed on the roots of the plant.

If you see yellowing leaves and holes in the leaves of cucurbits, there are a number of different ways you can get rid of striped cucumber beetles.

Yellow sticky traps are one effective way, though you can also manually remove them from your plants when you see them.

Another option is to use row covers to cover seedlings, but you’ll have to remove the row covers for several hours a day during the flowering stage in order to allow for pollination.

3. Slugs

These nocturnal, soil-dwelling creatures can really do a number on young seedlings and bulbs.

Their survival depends on a moist and cool environment, so you won’t see them out and about in the heat of the day.

During this time, they’ll be sheltered in shady, cool spaces under rocks, leaves, and boards.

You can handpick slugs off plants in the early morning or in the evening when they’re feeding.

Another way to deal with slugs is to place boards on the ground around the plants.

You can then collect them midday when many slugs will seek shelter under the board.

Shallow containers of beer also work as slug traps.

4. Leaf Miners

Leaf miner is the name given for the larvae of different types of flies, wasps, and moths.

One of the best ways you can avoid leaf minors is by cultivating the soil in the fall.

This is because they emerge in the spring after overwintering in the soil.

By tilling in the fall, you expose them to predators that will remove them from your garden.

5. Thrips

You may find any of the more than 6,000 species of thrips feeding on a number of your garden plants.

Beans, carrots, onions, squash, flowers, and a long list of other garden staples can fall prey to thrips.

Feeding in large groups, the adults are incredibly small. At less than 1/25 inch, you might want a magnifying glass if you suspect their presence.

To get rid of thrips, it’s important to remove green plant debris as well as weeds and grass from around the garden.

Dry mulch is not a problem, but green mulch is in danger of attracting thrips.

It’s important to be mindful that the plants you’re bringing in aren’t already infested with thrips.

Make sure you don’t expose the rest of your plants to a plant that has thrip presence.

You can also use blue sticky traps to deal with adult thrips.

There are also a number of beneficial insects that you can release into your garden to help deal with a thrip problem, such as ladybugs, lacewings, and minute pirate bugs.

6. Flea Beetles

If you notice shiny, oval-shaped insects that jump like fleas and leave small circular holes in leaves, your plant might be infested by flea beetles.

Particularly attracted to eggplants, flea beetles also feed on a long list of garden crops.

To avoid having flea beetles, make sure to vulnerable crops as late as possible.

Flea beetles are most active in the early spring.

You can also transplant sturdy seedlings which will be more able to handle flea beetle damage.

You can also use white sticky traps to both trap and monitor the flea beetles in your garden.

Cultivating in the fall or early spring can also remove crop debris and weeds in which flea beetles would find shelter while overwintering.

7. Aphids

Particularly present during the start and finish of a growing season, there are at least 4,000 different species of aphids.

If you notice curled leaves, pale yellow spots on leaves, or distorted blossoms, you might have aphids.

Apids can be avoided by controlling the amount of nitrogen in your garden.

You’ll also want to save pruning for the middle of the growing season, as aphids like to feed in the early spring on fresh growth.

They can also be removed manually by using a cloth or spraying the plants with plain water.

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Knowledge Is Power: Understanding Different Garden Pests Is the Key to Eradicating Them

Without dangerous, chemical intervention, it’s impossible to completely avoid garden pests.

By understanding their lifecycle, what they feed on, and how their populations grow, however, you can mitigate the negative effects of pests on plants through garden management practices.

If you found this article on garden bugs useful, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more informative content!


5 Common Garden Pests and How to Get Rid of Them

If you have a garden, you are most likely familiar with the frustration of noticing plants deteriorating and not knowing the reason why.

Some common warning signs you have garden pests are:

  • Holes in foliage
  • Leaves turning yellow or brown
  • Wilted leaves/flowers
  • Folded leaves
  • Slime trails
  • Leaf mines (white patterns on leaves)
  • Holes in fruit and vegetables

While garden pests are unavoidable, keeping a healthy garden by promoting soil health and fertility via regular fertilising is a great way to keep many garden pests away. Charlie Carp’s fertilisers are unique in that they are made from European Carp. The natural fish oils help to deter garden pests while providing nutrition to your garden.

European Carp is a major pest wreaking havoc in Australian waterways. Who knew one pest, in the form of fertiliser, could also help to deter other types of pests from entering your garden.

Early detection of garden pests is essential to protecting your garden. We have provided some common signs to help you identify different garden pests as well as some tips on how to effectively deal with them.

Garden Pest # 1 Curl Grub

What is a Curl Grub?

Curl grubs are a plump white grub with a grey bottom and orange face. They curl into a ‘C’ shape, making them easy to identify.

These are not a grub you want to find in your garden beds or lawn. Watch out for the following signs, especially in summer.

Signs of Curl Grubs:

  • Brown dying patches of lawn
  • Slumping flowers
  • Dying produce
  • Grass that is easy to pull out

Curl grubs feed on the roots of a wide range of plants, especially grassroots.

Have you ever been frustrated with dead patches of lawn, despite your constant watering? Discoloured and unhealthy patches of lawn are likely to be the cause of curl grubs. This can be extremely frustrating especially since our lawns are such a major attraction in our gardens.

Dig up a brown patch to about a spade depth and check to see how many grubs are in the soil. Try to dig up a few spots in different locations to understand the extent of the infestation. If there are lots, this means you have a problem.

How to Get Rid of Curl Grub?

  • Neem oil can be used to disrupt the curl grub’s growth and development. Once ingested they will stop feeding and die off. Neem oil is safe for beneficial insects as they do not eat the plants you will likely be spraying on. Mix neem oil in a watering can and pour over lawns, garden beds and your pot plants.
  • Introduce nematodes. These microscopic worms carry bacteria that will kill curl grubs and other pests. Nematodes are not harmful to other plants, pets or humans and other beneficial insects. Spray in winter and spring as a preventive measure.
  • Curl grub beetles prefer to lay their eggs in dry and unhealthy grass. Keep your lawn healthy and thick via regular deep watering and using natural lawn fertilisers.

Garden Pest #2 Aphids

What are Aphids?

Aphids are a very common garden pest. You’ve probably seen their tiny green translucent bodies on some plants around your garden.

Signs of Aphids:

  • Yellowing leaves
  • Curling and misshapen leaves
  • Deformed flowers
  • Stunted and distorted fruit
  • Sticky substance on leaves and stems

Aphids love roses, so if you have noticed that your roses aren’t reaching their full potential with yellowing leaves and deformed flowers, aphids are the likely culprit. When you are caring for your roses, check on the buds and under their leaves for this common garden pest.

They can survive in most conditions and multiply very quickly, so it’s important to get on top of them as soon as you spot them.

How to Get Rid of Aphids?

  • If you spot aphids on your plants, use the hose to blast them off. This is an easy way to dislodge them.
  • You can also make a mixture of detergent and water. Either spray or wipe the plants and reapply every 2-3 days for 2 weeks.
  • Neem oil is a popular choice for defeating aphids. Remember to read the instructions carefully before applying.
  • Plant catnip, garlic and chives around plants that attract aphids – aphids are repelled by these plants.

Garden Pest #3 Hornworm

Tomatoes are the staple of every Australian’s vegetable garden. Growing great tomatoes are what we all strive for. Unfortunately, the tomato has many garden pests, with the most destructive being the hornworm.

Hornworms are a big pale green caterpillar that will eventually turn into a moth. While they are large, they can easily camouflage themselves amongst the leaves. They weaken the plant by removing the leaves leading to sunscald and in some cases, they will feed on the fruit.

Signs of Hornworm:

  • Missing leaves
  • Chewed and spotty leaves
  • Dark excrement on leaves

Control and Prevention Tips:

  • Regularly check your plants and pick caterpillars off especially in spring. Once hornworms are removed from the host plant, they quickly die. Chuck them in your compost, or even better if you have chooks feed the caterpillars to them for extra nutrition.
  • Look out for moths in late spring to prevent them laying eggs on your plants again.
  • If you have a big garden and don’t have the time to pick them off individually, use an organic pesticide such as BT.

Garden Pest #4 Slater

Slaters otherwise referred to as ‘Roley Poleys’ are found all over Australia. They are easy to spot, with their multi-legged bodies and armour-like exoskeleton. Slaters mainly feed on decaying organic matter, which helps to recycle nutrients back into the soil.

You’ve most likely seen them scurrying away or curling into a ball when you lift up a pot. Slaters are shy creatures, harbouring in damp and dark places. You’ll find them in compost, mulch, under pots, and in stacks of timber.

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Signs of Slater Damage:

  • Uneven rasping-type damage on leaves
  • Seedlings eaten down to their stumps
  • Damage to fruit

Slaters do have a role to play in breaking down organic matter but become a garden pest when there are large numbers. They can turn their attention to your vegetable garden, damaging seedlings, ripe fruits and vegetables.

Control and Prevention Tips:

  • Use the shell of oranges to create traps. Dispose of slaters that collect overnight, or even better feed them to your chooks!
  • If you have chickens let them free range regularly to keep the slater population at bay
  • Regularly pick up dropped fruit and vegetables
  • Create a barrier around seedlings by cutting the bottom out of old pots and placing around the seedling. Once they grow and become tougher you can remove the plant collar.
  • When sowing seed or planting seedlings create a barrier from the mulch. Slaters don’t like to stay out in the open.
  • Try to grow some fruits in hanging pots, such as strawberries.

Garden Pest #5 Funnel Ants

Funnel ants can quickly take over your lawn, creating little funnel-shaped nests of soil throughout your grass. The ants are a tan-brownish colour and can grow to 5mm in length.

Funnel ants create extensive tunnels underground which weakens the structure of the soil leading to uneven ground. You’ll notice their mounds pop up after rain, as they excavate the ground in order to dry out their nests. This causes your lawn to become unsightly, and in extreme cases, you may need to level and re-turf your garden. Funnel ants can also sting which can be an issue for pets and children playing on the lawn and coming into contact with their nests.

They are a persistent pest that are hard to get rid of but there some actions you can take to get them under control.

Control and Prevention Tips:

  • Funnel ants do not like broadleaf types of grass. Opt for different types of lawn.
  • Pour a solution of dish soap, canola oil and water into their tunnels.
  • You can also pour white distilled vinegar in their funnels that will help to kill them.
  • Since the ants prefer to live in stressed soil, ensure you keep your lawn and soil healthy.

Identifying garden pests is the first step in prevention. Here at Charlie Carp, we provide a range of natural fertilisers that will help to keep your garden healthy and pest free. If you would like any further information on our products get in touch today.


Pests of the garden — how to get rid of them

Garden Pests and How To Get Rid of Them

Garden pests are a problem, but figuring out how to get rid of them is an even bigger problem. When growing your vegetables and herbs, many backyard gardeners don’t want to use heavy pesticides. They would prefer natural ways of discouraging pests from their plants. Two main types of pests attack your garden: chewing pests and sucking pests. Chewing pests will leave small holes or tears in your plants, while sucking pests will cause plants to wilt, yellow or brown when attacked. These two categories can be further broken down into pests that attack leaves, roots, stems, flowers, or fruits. There are many “good” bugs that you can attract to your garden to help keep the “bad” ones from destroying all your hard work.

snail with lettuce leaf

There are millions of insects in the world. Roughly one percent of these feed on plants in a harmful way. Not all bugs are bad. Some are the natural enemies of those plant destroying types. Other insects are necessary for plants to grow. Bees, for example, are the best pollinators out there, so using potent pesticides that also kill bees would not be beneficial to your garden. Some insects create by-products that humans use like silk, wax, and honey. Always try to attract good bugs to your plant beds before resorting to harsher measures.

The Good

We all know that when a ladybug lands on you, it brings you good luck. Most ladybugs in your garden is even luckier. Both adults and larvae eat scale insects, aphids, mealybugs, mites, and several other soft-bodied insects as well as their eggs. Did you also know there are ninety-eight different species of ladybug in Florida? Of these, there are two varieties, the Mexican Bean Beetle and the Squash Beetle, that are harmful to plants. Think of these two as those distance cousins your family never speaks about.

Assassin Bugs come in 160 different North American species. The Wheel Bug is the most well-known of these. Assassin bugs have a curved beak which they use to inject venom into their prey. They will bite humans if handled, and it is a painful bite. They are good to have around because they prey upon mosquitoes, earthworms, flies, and aphids.

You know you are truly hitting the “environmentally friendly” goal when you attract dragonflies to your garden. Dragonflies can be especially sensitive to pesticides. Dragonflies are sometimes called “mosquito hawks” because of their ability to eat substantial numbers of the pests. Since dragonfly nymphs share a love of water with mosquito larvae, their presence can help to control populations before they can become biting adults.

When one thinks of a stink bug, they likely aren’t feeling it’s a good bug for the garden. There are two types: predatory stink bugs and crop-destroying stink bugs. Predatory stink bugs feed on caterpillars, among other insects, so you do want them in your vegetable garden, but not your butterfly garden. So how can you tell them apart? There are two ways you can tell the good from the bad, crop-destroying stinkbugs have long thin mouthparts, and rounded shoulders. The predators have short, stout beaks and a spine down the thorax. Crop-destroying stinkbugs, like the Green Stinkbug, can become a problem on any plant, but they are most attracted to tomatoes. If stinkbugs become a problem, you’ll notice your plants starting to wilt, at which time you should consider using a pesticide. You can always tell if you have stinkbugs because of their infamous foul odor. Another caterpillar predator is the Big-Eyed bug. They look similar to chinch bugs (and eat them too) but have larger eyes. This bug is particularly useful for eating soft-bodied insects on the soil surface.

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The Bad

While some caterpillars do grow up to be beautiful butterflies, you might not want to invite these leaf-destroyers into your vegetable garden. There are even some species that will burrow into your fruits. Cutworms will attack young plants and transplants. These bugs will topple your plants by chewing through stems. Two bugs previously mentioned are excellent for caterpillar control, the big-eyed bug, and the predatory stinkbug. Caterpillars are usually easy to spot, so hand-picking them out of your garden is one solution if you don’t have many plants. However, for bigger gardens, floating row covers will work to prevent them from seeking nourishment on your spinach. For cutworms and other night-feeding species, consider using a barrier or “sleeve.” Place the sleeve over the bottom of the plant and push it into the top of the soil. This method should help prevent soil-invading insects from crawling up the stems of your plants.

Aphids are tiny pear-shaped insects that attack the stems of your plants. They are commonly called “plant lice.” If your plants show signs of leaves curling or become distorted, you likely have an aphid problem. Having aphids will also increase ant populations because their sweet honeydew excrement attracts them. Lacewings are sometimes called “aphid lions” because this is the insect that they most like to eat. Some homeopathic remedies for aphids include hot pepper or garlic repellant sprays, but lacewings, ladybugs, and aphid midges will help keep these plant destroyers in check. A strong spray of water will also wash these bugs off the plants. Pesticides should be used as a last resort.

Beetles can be a big problem. One way to reduce the likelihood that you will get beetles in your vegetable garden is to remove any grass or weed debris when tilling your soil. It is also recommended that you do this at least 30 days in advance of planting. Four of the most significant pest beetle problems in Florida are the Mexican Bean Beetle, the Colorado Potato Beetle, Cucumber Beetle, and the Flea Beetle. These adult beetles are leaf destroyers, but most are not problematic enough in backyard gardens to warrant extreme measures. Usually, hand-picking these from your garden, if done routinely, is enough to prevent significant damage. The problem with these beetles is in the larval stage when they attack roots. The preventative measures mentioned are best for reducing the likelihood of infestation. Floating plant rows are a good source of protection against these insects, as well as mild pesticides.

Tips for Preventing or Controlling Pests in Your Garden

By rotating your crops every season, you allow the nutrients in your garden to replenish. By planting the same crops repeatedly in the same place, the soil structure weakens. Crop rotation also helps eliminate soil pests from taking hold in your garden. Tilling your garden thirty days in advance of planting helps to aerate the soil and mix in organic matter that you are adding, such as compost. Try to keep the depth to less than twelve inches as this can do more harm than good to your prepared planting area. Tilling the soil about thirty days before planting, and keeping it free of weeds during this time, will also keep pests from invading before you plant.

When you are ready to plant, there are several things you can do to help prevent or control the invasion of pests. If you plant seedlings or immature plants, make sure they are free of pests, weeds, or other signs of disease before planting. Make sure to follow the guidelines for watering and fertilizing your plants. Too much fertilizer can attract certain pests, while too little water can stress the plants and make them prone to disease or attack.

You can help put a stop to fruit harming pests by harvesting your plants as soon as they are ripe. Make sure to check on your garden once or twice per week. Implementing this practice is recommended to alert you of any potential problems brewing and, come harvest time, allow you to pick your vegetables at the peak of freshness. When your plants have finished giving off fruit for the season, make sure to cut them down and plow the leftover roots and stalks into the soil. This practice will help add vital nutrients back into the ground for next year’s crops.

For larger gardens, consider installing floating row covers, which will keep a variety of pests off your plants.

One pesticide recommended by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture is Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis. This pesticide is especially useful against caterpillars and worms, but is not harmful to many of the good bugs mentioned earlier. Bt is approved for use in organic gardens. There are also many home-use pesticides available at your local home supply store. Be sure to read up on the chemicals used in them, as you don’t want to chase all your bugs away. Remember, some are essential to your garden’s growth!


While this is not an exhaustive list of all the pests you might find in your backyard garden, it is a list of the more commonly seen problematic insects. Following the guidelines set forth here, you will find that your instance of pest problems can easily be reduced. Of course, nighttime animal predators could also be a problem. Consider fencing in your garden to prevent rabbits, raccoons, and deer from damaging your garden. Tunneling pests such as moles, pocket gophers, gopher tortoises, and others will destroy root systems. If you happen to live in more desolate areas of Florida, you may become victim to coyotes or wild boar, which can destroy an entire garden in one night.


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