A typical garden attracts hundreds of different species of insects, from beetles and caterpillars to bees, nematodes and moths. Only a few of these insects are pests, and many of the pests are only a problem during a specific part of their life cycle. The vast majority of the insects are "good bugs": predators, pollinators and parasites. The trick is knowing which ones cause damage and when, and learning ways to minimize that damage.
Still primarily a pest of
the eastern U.S., they turn up west of the Rockies from time to time. They're
a problem for gardeners for their appetite for a wide variety of plants:
Adults feed on just about every kind of flower or vegetable, sometimes
in disturbingly large crowds. They chew out the leaf tissue between the
veins, leaving a lacy skeleton. Prior to pupating, the white, 1-inch long,
C-shaped grubs live in the soil and feed on the roots of most all plants.
Grubs are often a problem in lawns. Bug Mugs provided by NationalGardening.com,
the online publisher of the National Gardening Association. Photography
by Clemson University Department of Entomology, Cooperative Extension Service
Beetle: (Size= 1/4 to 1/2 inch) Don't be confused by the two
different forms of this pest. The striped form is shown above. It's cousin
features a dozen black spots. But whether spotted or striped, both are
the same size and the same, greenish yellow color, and both dine on a wide
variety of cucumber family vegetables as well as various ornamentals such
as roses and dahlias. Another
well known family member is the corn root worm. They are more dangerous
cucumber family hosts than many pests because they transmit deadly
diseases mosaic and bacterial wilts. The adults over winter in weeds and
plant debris. They emerge in spring after the last frost and enter gardens
once the growing season is underway. You may first notice them inside squash
flowers. They lay orange eggs at the base of host plants; white larva with
legs and brown heads chew on roots. Short, northern seasons allow just
one generation a year. In the south and mild west, two or more
generations are typical.
Colorado Potato Beetle (Size= 1/3 inch) If you see in your garden a small yellow beetle with black stripes over its wings and black spots just behind its head, say hello to the Colorado potato beetle. The humpbacked larva is equally distinctive: red with a row of black spots along each side. For years it lived quietly in Colorado feeding on weedy potato relatives. But at some point after the potato was well established in North America, its ancestors learned a new trick. It's been the bane of potato growing gardeners ever since. Potatoes are its first love, but this beetle will eagerly consume leaves of potato relatives eggplant, ground cherry, peppers, tomato, and tomatillo. Colorado potato beetle prefer cold winters. While found as far west as Arizona, Nevada, western Oregon and western Washington, it is by far more common on the East Coast as far south as Virginia, then from there to the north west through Wyoming. The adult beetles over winter in the soil, emerging in the spring to lay clusters of yellow eggs on leaf undersides. There are one to three generations per year, depending on the part of the country.
Controls: Bt, handpicking,
neem, early planting, pyrethrins,
covers. A thick organic mulch makes it hard for emerging beetles to
reach plants in spring. Surveillance and hand picking remains among the
gardener's best defenses. Examine plants while holding container of soapy
water to dispose of any you find. Natural enemies include birds, spined
soldier bugs, and parasitic nematodes.
Spray Potato Beetle Beater, which is Bacillus thuringiensis tenebrionis
(also known as San Diego strain), while larva are small to manage major
outbreaks. Photography by USDA. Bug photos and information above courtesy
Pest and Disease Finder
More Bugs To learn more about the following bugs...... Aphid, Apple Maggot, Box Elder Bug, Bronze Birch Borer, Cabbage Worm, Carpenter Ant, Flying Ants, Carpet Beetle, Cucumber Beetle, Earwig, Eastern Tent Caterpillar, European Pine Saw Fly, Gypsy Moth, Horn worm, Japanese Beetle, Centipede, Millipede, Pantry Pests, Peach Tree Borer, Slug, Squash Bug, Squash Vine Borer, Annual White Grub.