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Guide to Vegetable Garden Pests: Identification and Management


Each vegetable gardener experiences pest problems from time to time, and it is common for gardeners to find themselves wanting to identify a pest properly before finding a solution to it. Understanding how to identify and manage them is a crucial step in growing a productive and healthy garden. In this article, you will find an informative guide to common vegetable garden pests.

Reasons for Identifying Pests in the Garden

An important step in deciding whether pest extermination is required is proper pest identification and understand the pests' life cycles and the impact of the damage they are capable of causing. Take, for instance, there are vegetable garden pests that feed on plants for a short while. Others do have a very short lifecycle that can last a few weeks. In both these cases, you do not need to invest your time and effort because they will not cause meaningful damage.

On the other hand, there are vegetable garden pests that can reproduce rapidly, and create overlapping generations within just one growing season. In a short period, their population can explode and cause an enormous amount of damage in a short span. Such pests need to be exterminated swiftly and effectively.

So, the only way you can tell the pest's lifecycle, and the damage it is capable of causing is to properly identify them and learn more about them before proceeding to take any pest control action. There are plenty of ways you can about this.

Methods of Identifying Vegetable Garden Pests

1. Identify pests by physical description

This method of identification relies on identifying the pest's shape, size, coloration, wing count, leg count, among other physical aspects. Identifying vegetable garden pests by their physical traits is an effective way of determining who has been nibbling on your plants.

2. Identify pests by type of damage

In many cases, the insect in not physically present on the plant. However, you might come across the caused damage. Identifying pests based on the damage they cause is quite easy than it looks. A plethora of insects have distinctive feeding patterns. They leave behind an unmistakable damage that can be traced back to a particular vegetable garden pest.

3. Identify pests by host plant

In numerous instances, leaf-eating vegetable garden pests only feed on a few select families or plant species. Interestingly, there are pests that have even specialised in feeding on just one species of a host plant. Examples of these pests include holly leaf miners, rose sawflies, asparagus beetles, just to name a few. Matching the plant species under attack with the vegetable garden pests that commonly feed on it could prove to be another may of identifying a pest.

Common Vegetable Garden Pests

1. Aphids

Aphids are the most common vegetable garden pests, and they seem to always have a way into every garden. Thy have a small and soft body, and different species of the pest have colours ranging from black, white, yellow, green or grey. Aphids multiply in rapid fashion, but if detected early, they can be controlled easily.

2. Bean leaf beetle

Adults of these vegetable garden pests are oval-shaped and measure about ¼ inches long. Their colour can range from yellowish-green to red. Normally, they have black markings and black spots along its wings' outside margins, but there are varieties that have no markings at all. Whichever the number of spots or colour, you can always recognise bean leaf beetles by the black triangle located at the top of the covers of their wings.

3. Cabbage looper

This pest derives its name "looper" because of the manner in which it arches its body when it crawls. It enjoys preying on plants belonging to the Brassicaceae family such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and collard greens. These destructive vegetable garden pests also attack tomatoes, potatoes and cucumber. Its caterpillars grow to about 5 cm long, and they are green with white or silvery stripes that run down their backs.

4. Cucumber beetle

Cucumber beetles destroy members of the Cucurbitaceae group, beans, corn and peas. Their lifecycle is about eight weeks, and the larva as well as the adult are dangerous to plants. Furthermore, the cucumber beetle carries and spreads squash mosaic virus and bacterial wilt organism. Cucumber beetles need to be eliminated as soon as possible.

5. Cross-striped cabbageworm

The cross-striped cabbageworm attacks most brassica plants, cauliflower, broccoli, collards, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Its adult is a moth that has a wingspan of roughly one inch. Its front wings are straw coloured, and crossed with thin transverse lines. Its hind wings are whitish and transparent.

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