There are quite a variety of common garden pests found in Virginia. Some of these pests are actually good to keep around, but some are destructive and should be dealt with as soon as you notice them in order to prevent an infestation. Many of the “good pests” actually help control the destructive ones that you don't want around.
Let's start off with a few of the common less welcome pests that you're likely to see:
- Tomato Hornworm. This extremely destructive pest will devour your tomato plants in record time. If you notice large pieces or entire stems missing and what appear to be bites taken out of the tomatoes these pests are a likely culprit. They often blend in with the plant as they're a vibrant green color and seek shade under the leaves during the hotter part of the day so they can be hard to spot.
- Aphids. These pests can destroy plants quickly though they are small. These soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects that resemble a tiny grain of rice, cluster densely on tender new growth and the undersides of leaves to feed on plant juice. Plants often can withstand some aphid feeding with no adverse effect, but badly infested plants develop distorted growth and leaves may turn yellow.
- Beetles. There are good beetles such as the ladybird beetle aka “the ladybug” which eat aphids by the thousands, but there are also destructive beetle species such as the Japanese beetle, often identified by their green markings. These pests are destructive to the leaves, flowers, and fruits of over 300 plant species.
- Snails and Slugs. These pests not only leave unsightly slime trails but can also destroy your garden plants. Slugs are nocturnal so are usually only spotted at night. Snails are especially good climbers and can make their way up onto fruit trees and other tall plants. You'll notice a definitive slime trail and uneven bite patterns taken out of your plants wherever these pests have navigated the area to feed.
There are ways to control these pests with a variety of sprays and powders, but there are also some natural predators that can assist with pest control in your garden. Let's learn more about some of those commonly seen “welcome critters”.
- Praying Mantis. This unique insect is always a delight to spot. Not only are they interesting in their looks but they're also very good at keeping destructive insects under control. They will feast on a wide range of insects that can be found in gardens. They are ferocious hunters and have a voracious appetite, mainly feeding on live food.
- Lady beetles aka ladybugs. These colorful bugs can be beneficial to gardens as they feed mainly on aphids. In fact, a single lady beetle may eat as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime.
- Earthworms. Earthworms are always a welcome guest in your garden soil. Their ability to help create nutrient-rich dirt will greatly benefit your plants. Earthworms dramatically alter soil structure, water movement, nutrient dynamics, and plant growth just by existing within the dirt.
- Bees. Of course, we all know some species of bees can deliver a painful sting, but they're also essential. As they fly about feeding on pollen they also help to create life in your garden. They deliver pollen from flower to flower and in turn contribute to a bountiful harvest of fruits and vegetables.
Some of these beneficial insects can be identified here (where you'll see detailed photos of these and other common garden insects.)
If you're experiencing an infestation of pests in your garden or home contact Eagle Pest Services. Our experienced technicians will discuss all available options to get your pest issues under control.