Garden Insect Pest Identification


Gardeners just want beautiful gardens, but many forces of nature are interested in turning the backyard garden into a personal buffet. Some pests make plants less attractive by causing deformities and dieback, while other pests can completely destroy plants. In order to know how to stop the pests, they must first be identified.

Pest Identification

Pest insects can be identified by examining the pest, according to Organic Garden Info. There are thousands of pests that can damage or destroy plants, so gardeners should find out the kinds of insects live in the gardener’s geographic region and the kinds of insects that tend to feed on the specific plants in the garden. Gardeners should not just kill any insect found on the plant because many insects are actually beneficial to the plant and might kill harmful pests.


Gardeners should inspect the leaves, stems and sometimes even the roots of the plant for changes. Sometimes the plant will have damage on it, while other times the plant will look droopy or start yellowing or browning, according to Organic Garden Info. Also, some insects leave behind residue that is distinct enough that the insect can be identified. Inspect the soil because many harmful pests burrow through the soil.


The damage done to the plant should be assessed before insecticide is purchased. In some cases, the damage done by the insect is so minor that the insecticide is not necessary. Not only do insecticides cost money, but insecticides can also harm plants and wildlife and contaminate vegetables, according to Organic Garden Info. Identifying the insect is important for determining the chances that the pest will cause serious damage to the plant.


Aphids are common pests that come in many varieties and release secretions that can cause black, sooty mold growth. They are found in clusters under leaves. Cabbage loopers burrow through cabbage and can contaminate the cabbage with fecal matter. Chinch bugs are found on corn and destroy individual kernels. Cutworms attack and destroy new plants as they begin sprouting out of the soil. Snails and slugs chew holes in low-growing plants.


The damage found on the plant can help identify the pest. Leaves with holes and deflowered plants are likely being attacked by chewing pests such as caterpillars, sawflies and grasshoppers. Plants that become deformed might have thrips, which scrape off plant cells, causing new plant cells to grow around the broken plant cells and then creating deformities. Plants that turn yellowish, reddish or brown are often victims of sucking insects, which can cause damage by injecting toxic saliva. Some leaves have what look like tunnels burrowing through them, which can be caused by beetle moths and fly larvae. Some leaves fold or become roiled, which is caused by crickets, caterpillars, mites and some spiders.

Keywords: garden pests, pest identification, pest insects, contaminate vegetables

About this Author

Charles Pearson has written as a freelancer for two years. He has a B.S. in Literature from Purdue University Calumet and is currently working on his M.A. He has written three ebooks so far: Karate You Can Teach Your Kids, Macadamia Growing Handout and The Raw Food Diet.