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Vegetable Gardens & Plant Lice

By Elizabeth Balarini ; Updated September 21, 2017

Plant lice are tiny insects that live off of vegetation. Unfortunately for gardeners, their food of choice is plants. Plant lice multiply quickly and can devastate a garden within a couple of weeks. Treat quickly to get rid of the plant lice and save your crops.


Plant lice are very small insects. They are so small that some gardeners cannot see them on their plants. Plant lice can be black, white, green, brown, pink, or red. No matter their color, they have the same shape and appearance. The average length of a plant louse is 1/32" to 1/8" long. They have relatively long legs, and a pair of antennae atop their heads.

Signs of Infestation

Plant lice leave a clear, sticky residue on plants. They usually attack the undersides of leaves first. In advanced infestations, the clear sticky substance crusts and scales over. Check the undersides of leaves regularly for signs of plant lice.


Plant lice left unchecked wreak havoc on plants. Leaves and stems are attacked. Damage is seen in the form of curled, misshapen leaves, and deformed new growth. Vegetable or fruit yield may be affected. Plant lice are known to carry viruses, which cause further damage to plants.

Most Common Targets

Plant lice like house plants, shrubs, and vegetable plants. In a vegetable garden, their favorite crops are tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and carrots. If you grow any of these crops in your home garden, be especially watchful. Check leaves daily for signs of infestation.

Treatment and Prevention

To treat an active infestation of plant lice, use an insecticidal soap. This mixture will kill existing plant lice and will prevent re-infestation. Insecticidal soap is safe for humans and pets.

To prevent plant lice from taking over your garden, start companion gardening. Companion gardening is the practice of planting natural repellents near plants that are susceptible to pest infestation. In vegetable gardens, plant onions, basil, or marigolds near tomatoes to keep plant lice away.


About the Author


Elizabeth Balarini is a freelance writer and professional blogger who began writing professionally in 2006. Her work has been published on several websites. Her articles focus on where her passions lie: writing, web development, blogging, home and garden, and health and wellness. Balarini majored in English at the University of Texas at San Antonio.