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Insects on plants

Usually, until they have caused some damage to our garden, we do not pay attention to these small living beings, but the truth is that they are a fundamental part of our ecosystem. Insects are fundamentally characterized by presenting a pair of athens, three pairs of legs and two pairs of wings. They can feed on different things such as fruits, leaf juice, wood, larvae of other insects, meat, etc. This is why some insects can damage the plants in our garden to a greater or lesser extent.

Thrips on hibiscus
Thrips are small insects (between 1 and 6 mm) that belong to the order Thysanoptera and are very common in gardens around the world. To date, approximately 5,600 species are Read more

1. Beneficial insects for garden

In general, when we think of insects in our garden we always tend to associate them with the damage they cause. Without going too far, that’s what I did in the previous paragraph. In any case, and due to the very balance that exists in our world, there are a large number of very beneficial insects for our garden.

To maintain any garden or orchard it is essential to know what these beneficial insects are. But not only that, you must also know what benefit it brings and how it helps us. This way you can take the relevant precautions so as not to kill them by mistake.

Let’s quickly see which are the most common beneficial insects for our garden:

Beneficial insects for garden
  • Ladybug: these insects are very good predators of larvae, aphids, mealybugs, mites, etc.
  • Bee: I think everyone knows the benefits that bees bring not only to our garden or orchard, but to the world in general.
  • Wasp: Although it can be considered a first cousin of bees, its benefit for the garden is not so much in pollination. They are also excellent predators of insect larvae (mites, whiteflies, aphids, etc.).
  • Beetle: here we find other very good predators. Depending on the species in question, they can eat bacoas, snails, worms, whiteflies, etc.
  • Chrysopids: they are winged insects that like to eat whitefly larvae, mites, small caterpillars, among other harmful insects.
  • Centipedes: Although you may not know it, centipedes are other very good insect predators. In the right conditions it can exterminate many pests in our garden.
  • Garden Spiders: And to kill off predators, we couldn’t ignore spiders. With the help of their cobwebs, they can consume a large number of bad insects.
  • Earthworm: Although not technically an insect (it is an invertebrate), we found it important to place the earthworm on this list. Under the soil they are responsible for providing nutrients, aerating the soil and controlling the PH.

2. Harmful insects to plants

Just as it is important to know which are the beneficial insects, it is equally or more important to know which are the harmful insects for the garden. We will go on to list the most common and harmful ones, I will surely leave several without a name but it is only so as not to extend the article too much.

You will see that within the list I will list many that are not technically insects (as happened with the earthworm). This does not mean that from this website we do not know the definition of an insect, but that we seek to cover all these small living beings that are a headache when having a garden.

2.1 Ants

I certainly don’t need to tell you what an ant is like, everyone knows them. There are a large number of species, depending on how much the diet varies. In general, they love to eat leaves of plants, vegetables and trees. In a single night they can devour many leaves and do a lot of damage to your garden.

The damages that it brings not only remain in the above. Rather, some species of ants are responsible for transporting and protecting sucking insects such as whiteflies, mealybugs, aphids, and aphids. These will be responsible for doing more damage to our plants. As you can see, knowing how to control ants is very important.

2.2 Snails and slugs

These are undoubtedly one of the most common and harmful pests in any garden or orchard. These mollusks love to eat leaves, especially vegetables such as chard, lettuce, chicory. Although they also attack ornamental garden plants.

Recognizing the damage of both slugs and snails is very simple. The perforations that they leave in the leaves after eating them are large, a great difference from the attack of many other pests. On the other hand, their size makes them easy to find, something that facilitates their control.

2.3 Aphids

Finding aphids in the garden is very common, and when there are large numbers, it is a super harmful pest for any plant. Its high reproduction rate means that in a very short time some aphids become an uncontrollable pest.

When sucking the sap of the plants, certain symptoms occur such as the appearance of spots (yellow or brown), deformation of stems and leaves, leaf fall, etc. In addition, certain viruses are usually transmitted through their bites that make our plants sick.

2.4 White fly

These tiny whiteflies attack in a similar way to aphids, as they absorb sap from plants. The range of types of plants that are attacked by this pest is very wide and, since they are placed on the back of the leaves, they are quite difficult to kill.

A plant attacked by whitefly has symptoms very similar to those of aphids. That is, its leaves roll up and dry, the growth rate decreases, loss of color in the leaves, among others.

2.5 Thrips

Thrips are very small creatures with an elongated tubular body that move very quickly. It is very common to find them in plants such as tomatoes, aubergines, legumes, strawberries, etc. They also like to attack many types of flowers, so you are sure to find some in your garden.

On a plant attacked by thrips, you will see white spots appear on the leaves. These spots will gradually turn yellowish until they turn reddish. These spots are the death of cell tissue, so a large thrips attack can end up killing your plants.

2.6 Red spider and mites

Spider mites are very small and difficult to find on your plants. In any case, you will notice its presence by the presence of its cobweb, you will also see how little by little yellow spots appear on the leaves. And if you don’t treat your plants in time, the leaves will start to dry out.

They are a very common pest on both garden plants and ornamental garden plants. You must be vigilant to be able to quickly treat your plants against an attack of mites.

2.7 Caterpillars

Both worms and caterpillars are the most common pests in any garden, orchard or crop in general. These insects, in their larval stage, can cause a lot of damage to our plants. They generally attack the leaves, although depending on the species they also like to eat fruits or stems.

A pest of this type is easy to recognize since you will find large holes, and being relatively large larvae you will be able to see them without problems. There are many solutions to control caterpillars in the garden, from insecticides, traps, home remedies

2.8 Mealybugs

Here again we have very small insects, which do not exceed 3 mm in length. But their tiny size does not make them difficult to find, this is because they are grouped by hundreds on the stem, shoots and fruits, absorbing the sap.

While absorbing the sage, these insects secrete a honeydew that can attract other problems such as ants and fungi. They love to attack citrus, vegetables, ornamental, aromatic plants, etc. In other words, it attacks almost all types of plants.

3. Insect damage on plants

The damage that insects do to plants is very varied and will depend on both the characteristics of the insect and the plant. In this section we will analyze the damage caused by these pests dividing them according to what each one eats.

For simplicity we will see four of the most common cases that are insects that eat grass, leaves, fruits and those that destroy large crops.

3.1 Insects that eat grass

The large amount of surface that the lawn covers in our garden makes this herb more than important. A neglected lawn makes our entire garden look very bad. Therefore, having the perfect lawn is the dream of every good gardener.

And against this dream a large number of pests attack, as varied as they are harmful. Some attack the leaves, while others prefer to eat the roots.

It is important to periodically monitor the presence of the following insects on our lawn. If you find them in large numbers, you must begin to fight the plague, a fight that can sometimes be difficult to win.

  • Ants.
  • Caterpillars.
  • Armyworms.
  • Billbugs.
  • Grubes.
  • Cutworms
  • Slugs and snails
  • Mole crickets.
  • Japanese beetles grubs.
  • June beetle grubs.

These are just nine of the most common insects that attack your lawn. We could name several more, but I don’t want to scare you. Controlling the presence of these nine I think you will have enough. 😉

3.2 Insects that eat leaves on plants

Without a doubt, the leaves are a fundamental part of any plant. This means that finding the leaves of our plants eaten by an insect can drive us very crazy. And there is such a large amount of pests that eat leaves that it is difficult to escape from them in any garden in the world.

Insects that eat leaves on plants

Something positive about leaf-eating insects is that the symptoms of their attack are highly visible. Something that facilitates the control of these pests. It is only a matter of paying attention to the general foliage of the plants to notice whether or not they have been eaten.

Let’s briefly list some of the insects that may be attacking the leaves of your plants:

  • Beetles.
  • Caterpillars.
  • Ants.
  • Snails and Slugs.
  • Certain wasp larvae.
  • Leaf miners.
  • Sawflies.
  • Aphids.
  • Squash bugs
  • Spider mites.

Depending on the size of the holes that appear in the leaves, and analyzing other symptoms, you will be able to recognize what pest it is. Also if the attack is serious it will be easy to find the culprit insect. In case you cannot find it, it may be the case of an insect that attacks at night, something very common in several species of ants.

3.3 Insects that eat fruit

Being able to harvest fruits from our garden is something fabulous, but to be able to do it before we must control the attack of some insects. And there are many insects that like to eat fruit, and we will have to fight them if we want to have a good harvest.

Depending on the fruit and the insect, the damage caused may be of a greater or lesser degree. Some only break a little of the peel, others eat small bites or even eat most of the fruit.

Let’s see some of the most common insects that attack the fruits of our garden:

  • Japanese beetles.
  • Apple maggots.
  • Cutworms.
  • Slugs.
  • Spider mites.
  • Spittlebugs.
  • Cherry fruit files.
  • Codling Moth.
  • European red mite.
  • Grape berry moth.

I could expand the above list much more, but I think it is enough for you to realize that there are many insects that can attack your fruit trees.

3.4 Insects that destroy crops

Let’s go out for a moment from the environment of our garden or orchard, to talk about the insects that do the most damage to large crops. Year after year, the insects listed below cause multimillion-dollar losses to crops around the world. Reason why large amounts of money are invested to try to control them.

When we talk about large crops we mean corn, soybeans, sorghum, chickpea, tomato, cotton and any crop that is produced in large quantities.

As we have done so far, we will only mention a few of the most common insects that destroy crops, we will leave many unmentioned.

  • Bollworm.
  • Thrips.
  • Rootborer.
  • Stem borer.
  • Pod sucking bugs.
  • Caterpillars.
  • Grasshoppers.
  • Weevils.
  • Mealybugs.
  • Aphids.

As you may have noticed, many of the insects repeat themselves in all four lists in this section. This makes them one of the most harmful pests

4. How to get rid of insects in plants

We have analyzed which insects are beneficial, which are the most harmful, what kind of damage they can do to our plants, it is time to see what methods we have to get rid of them.

We will list seven of the most common methods you can use to eliminate and control insects in your garden.

4.1 Use soap

A fairly simple and inexpensive way to eliminate certain insects from our plants is through the use of soap. The pests that you can control using this technique are mealybugs and aphids, two of the most common insects in our garden.

Start by mixing two tablespoons of powdered dish soap in three liters of water. It is important not to exceed the dose of soap, since an exaggerated amount can damage our plants.

With this mixture of water and soap you must spray all the plants attacked by mealybugs or aphids. It is best to do this in the morning, when the sun is not as strong and the temperature is lower.

4.2 Ground coffee

Coffee grounds do not kill insects, but they are a good repellent. By spreading the coffee grounds on the ground, you will prevent insects such as slugs, ants or snails from climbing on your plants.

You should also remember that coffee grounds are very good fertilizers. You can refer to this article to learn how to use coffee grounds for fertilizing.

4.3 Have aromatic plants

The most natural and economical way to control certain insects in our garden is by strategically planting certain aromatics. In general, these aromatics will work as a repellent for certain insects.

  • Mint: if you plant it in association with broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage, it is a good repellent against aphids. It can also help repel ants, flies, and moths.
  • Rue: the smell and color of rue generates confusion for many types of insects that seek to attack our garden or orchard. Among them we can mention aphids, mites, whiteflies and slugs.
  • Lavender: it is a very good repellent for moths, fleas, mosquitoes. In addition to decorating any garden very well.
  • Salvia: if you have sage plants in your garden, they will help you repel miner flies from cabbages and carrots. At the same time, it will attract bed bugs that often attack crops like beans.
  • Rosemary and thyme: if you plant these two aromatics together they will work very well to repel butterflies from cabbage plants.

The above are just five examples of aromatics that work as insect repellants. There are several more but I leave you the task of finding out. 😉

4.4 Do not allow insects to climb the plants.

There are many insects that reach your plants by climbing. This is the case of ants, certain caterpillars, centipedes, etc. For these cases there is the option of trying to prevent these insects from climbing.

One way to avoid this is by placing double-sided tape around the trunk. Obviously this will only work for large plants, you cannot use it on most ornamentals or vegetables. But for fruit plants, certain shrubs, etc., it can work.

4.5 Apply eggshells

The case of the eggshell is somewhat similar to coffee grounds. By applying it to the soil next to your plants, you will be fertilizing at the same time that you repel certain insects (caterpillars and snails).

4.6 Using garlic

To control aphids and other pests in our garden you can use a garlic-based repellent. Preparing this repellent is quite simple.

You must crush five garlic cloves and place them in a saucepan with a liter of water. Let this mixture sit for a day and then put it on a low heat for about 20 minutes.

Once the mixture cools, you can place it in a sprayer and apply it to your plants. Do it in the morning for three to five days in a row.

4.7 There is always the option of using insecticides

So far we have looked at various ways to control insects naturally. Many times these methods are not effective, especially when the pest is very advanced.

In these cases, it is generally advisable to use an insecticide. Always making a responsible use and carefully following the instructions that come on the insecticide container.

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