The Most Destructive Pests and How to Keep them Away from Your Garden?

The Most Destructive Pests and How to Keep them Away from Your Garden?

Updated on 12th January 2022


Destructive insects and animals could really ruin a garden and discourage farming enthusiasts. And while there are many pests naturally occurring in the environment, there are also various solutions and practices that could be implemented to save your crops. All the hard work you have put into the maintenance of your garden should not be wasted just because unwanted preditors decided to feast on your greenery.

Wrap your head around the fact that organic farming attracts a lot of pests. Thus, learning how to control garden plagues is vital for the well-being of your plants. The best part is, you can reach your pest-free goals without extensive use of pesticides or insecticides. Keep on reading to find out how they can be outsmarted and kept away naturally.

The 5 Most Destructive Garden Pests

Insects are the most common pests in gardens, but they are not always “bad”. As a gardener, you have to be able to identify if an insect is going to hurt your plants or help them grow by taking care of the actual harmful bugs. Make sure you conduct proper inspections to detect pest infestations in their early stage. Once encountered, a pest situation can be handled in an environmentally-friendly way. 

Take a look at the list of the most destructive garden pests with advice on how to mind them:

1. Caterpillars

This pest bug feeds on ornamental and shade trees, as well as most fruits and vegetables. A caterpillar infestation can be distinguished by the chew marks along the plant’s margins and leaves, and the tunnels dug into fruits.

In order to fight the pest and deter it, you can apply some helpful practices. One of the best-known methods to restrain caterpillar access to the crops is applying floating row covers. Also, make sure to always handpick your harvest. Last but not least, try to encourage beneficial incests and parasites that are natural predators hunting caterpillars.

2. Cabbage Maggot

As their name suggests, these insects are big fans of feasting on cabbage crops. Maggots are considered extremely destructive pests because they damage the roots by tunneling them. If plants do not die due to cabbage maggot infestation, they would become an easy target for various diseases. 

Detering cabbage maggots is not an easy task but there are in fact a few measures a gardener could take to protect the vegetables. Floating row covers and delayed planting are surely an effective way of keeping your crops safe. Another solution includes the application of parasitic nematodes around the root system, as well as mounding wood ashes around stems. In the aftermath of a maggot outbreak, make sure you burn the roots of harvested cabbage.

3. Colorado Potato Beetle

The potato beetle is destructive in way too many ways, both in its larval and adult forms. This black-yellow bug chews on leaves, quickly and irreversibly damaging the entire plant it feeds on. Its usual meal consists of potato plants as a main dish, however, it also likes to feast on eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers.

It is one of the worst garden pests because it is quite common and extremely hard to get rid of. Unlucky for farmers, this insect develops a certain resistance to chemicals and insecticides, so the only way to fight back is through natural control methods. Some of the most effective practices include spraying with neem oil, implementation of deep straw mulches and row covers. Additionally, handpick the plants during harvest.

4. Armyworm

The armyworm surely deserves its name as it moves in a pack with fellow armyworms and it is absolutely destructive to garden plants. This pest is lethal to many crops as it is most active at night and feeds on every greenery on its way. Indeed the bug has a huge appetite, it chews on everything from leaves, kernels, stem to panicles and flowers.

The first thing you can do as a natural pest control is to introduce more beneficial insects to the garden as they will defend it from the armyworm intruders. Ladybugs, lacewings and trichogramma wasps will feed on armyworm eggs and young larvae. If the contagion is intolerable, apply organic insecticides. Alternatively, use pheromone traps to capture moths, and spray neem oil on the crops to fight the infestation. 

5. Aphids

Another garden pest that will destroy your garden any chance they get, is the aphids. The pear-shaped crawlers eat through the plant tissues and feed on the sap of the greens. As a result, the plants start to develop wrinkly leaves, sooty moulds and their growth gets stunted. Lack of pest treatment could result in lead to a hostile ant infestation and be fatal for your plants.

There are a few things you can do to control these critters and even get rid of them. Try to force the aphids off the foliage and fruits by spraying the plants with high-pressure water. Alternatively, if the infestation is not out of control yet, cut out and dispose of the infected plant parts. 

Another approach to handling the aphids situation would be spraying hot-pepper or garlic repellent sprays, horticultural oil, insecticidal soap or neem.  Lacewings and lady beetles are natural foes of aphids, so think about introducing these beneficial bugs into your garden for pest control. 

6. Tarnished Plant Bug

The Tarnished Plant Bug has a distinctive green and brown spot colouration and forewings with yellow triangles and black tips. The nymphs and the adult species love infesting flowers, fruits, and vegetables, to suck on the plant saps. These pests are so destructive for your garden that both the foliage and the fruits start to suffer from distortion, wilting and stunted growth. 

Some of the optimal ways to keep Tarnished Plant Bugs away from your garden include regular weeding in spring and installation of floating row covers. In case these measures fail to keep the destructive pests away, consider encouraging native predatory insects. If you manage to catch the infestation in the early stage, the best way to ensure a pest-free garden is by spraying young nymphs with neem oil.

7. Animals

Any healthy garden attracts animal pests. The common wildlife guests that would gladly consume your garden produce and plants are raccoons, deers, moles, rabbits, voles, birds and more. These animals tend to sneak into your yard, feed on your flowers and greenery leaves or just steal ripe fruits and vegetables with no remorse.

Farming takes time and requires extensive care of plants. So when an intruder comes around, damages your crops or affects your yield, you realize that maybe it’s time for animal control. The easiest way to protect your garden is by setting up a high fence or a barrier (e.g. mesh, net, wire, cover) that would restrict wildlife pest access. 

Next, you can repel – essential oils, strong odors, and predator smells effectively keep animals away. You might also place bright balloons or the good old scarecrow in your garden, to scare off unwelcome guests. We urge you to avoid cruel practices that involve extermination. Alternatively, if your pest problem is out of control, try to include setting up traps that catch but not hurt animals, and simply relocate them. 

How to Keep Pests Away from Your Garden?

different types of vegetablesWe have gathered a list of efficient methods to handle problematic insects and animals in your garden, without resorting to chemicals. All practices are effective for general protection of your crops, allowing you to grow produce without extensive worry about pests.

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is a farming method that is really practical and adequate when it comes to pest prevention. Rotating your crops annually would restrict the pest infestation because the previously contaminated plants would be relocated.

Many pests and animals live in the soil, so they tend to know where their favorite crop is planted. Thus rotation is key and every gardener has to avoid replanting greens from the same family in the same place every year.

Gardening comes with many dos and don’ts, however, the best way to learn and improve your practices is through trial and error. Always keep track of what you planted in a journal. Such a measure would ensure you can follow the infestation process and act accordingly to further avoid it. It also allows you to analyze problematic cases and take precautions for next season.

Tidy and Well-Maintained Garden

Highly maintained gardens rarely attract pests, so always make sure to regularly clean it and keep your farming methods on point. Acting quickly is important when it comes to horticulture infestations.

Be prepared to respond to any plantation threat on time, and work towards the goal to be able to easily spot the signs of foreign organism invasion. Sustaining a tidy home garden is a no-no for most pests like insects, as it provides you with a sufficient overview on the plants and their growing process.

How to maintain a tidy garden? As a start, use your space smart and do not plant greens too close to each other. Stuffing plants not only restrains you from getting the full picture on a crop’s health but also suffocates the greenery. Plants need air circulation to thrive, so whenever you tightly pack them you are inviting pests, giving them a good hiding place and a heat shelter. 

Repellents and Barriers

Repellents and barriers are quite an effective tool which helps you keep harmful animals and insects out of your garden. would give you a breath of fresh air when it comes to the health of your crops.

Barriers like covers and nets are such a good solution because they restrain the physical animal access to your plants. This farming method is widely considered as one of the best pest prevention practices, without the usage of chemicals. The most common examples of barriers are copper sheeting, screen coning, tar paper or foam rubber discs, basic plant overs, nets, sticky traps, etc.

Gardeners often include other plants into their anti-pest strategy. Some aromatic greens act as a deterrent and can be planted around the yard, to chase bugs away. Using them as a living barrier to banish insects works wonders. Plants like peppermint, spearmint, and pennyroyal naturally keep most of the destructive insects away. Additionally, classic crops like garlic, lavender, and savory could cover up the scent of your main plants.

Good Watering Schedule

Implementing a good watering schedule is a great way of keeping your plants hydrated and less appealing to bugs that feed on stressed and wilted greenery. Avoid watering your garden plants after heavy rain because this is just a recipe for disaster. Instead, wait for the soil to dry out and watch closely for any signs of pest infestation.

Morning watering is exclusively beneficial for your garden’s health. It provides your crops with sufficient water supply to get through the day and freshes them up. As some insect pests prey on water-neglected plants, this is also a great way to keep them away. 

Another advantage of morning watering is that the leaves would be able to dry off during the hot part of the daytime. If you leave your garden plants damp throughout the night, you are creating a perfect environment for pests like snails and slugs to thrive. 

The most effective schedule is considered to include deep watering once or twice during the week. Such a practice is generally more adequate than daily watering that just wets the leaves and the soil surface. (Please consider your plant type and its water need, though!) 


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