From time to time, every vegetable gardener faces pest problems, and learning how to handle the small leaf-munching threats without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides is an important step in building a safe, successful garden. It’s important to identify some common kinds of garden pests, so keep reading and find out more here.

Once you identify them, you should also know how to get rid of them. You could always take the convenient way out and call an exterminator. Or if you’re feeling experimental, you could easily use natural pest control methods to take care of the problem. Either way, you won’t be able to destroy what you can’t recognize, so read on!


Aphids are tiny insects that have a distinct pear-shaped form. They can be green, brown, yellow, red, gray or black. Based on their habitat and life-stage there are both winged and non-winged aphids. Aphids feed on many potential host vegetable plant species, including tomatoes, lettuce, kale, and cod. Aphids are some of the most common garden pests and you’ll see warnings about them in nearly every vegetable garden book.

Aphids suck the juices from plants, causing warped, deformed growth. They generally feed on new plant growth or undersides of the leaves in large groups.

You can kill aphids and keep them off of your plants by sprinkling them with a hose and a sharp stream of water. Hand-squishing aphids is also an easy method, or you can cover the plants with floating row covers to shield them from the bugs.

Cabbage Worms

Imported cabbageworm caterpillars are 1′′ long and light green with a thin yellow stripe down the back. Adults are white to gray with up to four black spots on the tail. They prefer to munch on all members of the cabbage family, including cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, radish, turnip, kohlrabi, and even Brussel sprouts.

Cabbage worm caterpillars chew holes in leaves and in clusters of flowers. When infestation is extreme they can cause complete defoliation. A potential solution would be to hang birdhouses as birds enjoy eating cabbage worms in a garden.

Carrot Rust Fly

Adult rust carrot flies are very small, bright black flies with an orange head and legs. Their larvae are tiny maggots of beige color. Although this pest is not included in every guide to vegetable garden pests, it is becoming more troublesome and deserves to be included by many gardeners. Adult flies lay eggs near several crops of vegetables, including carrots, celeriac, parsley, celery, parsnips, etc.

Carrot rust fly larvae feed on crop roots, leaving holes behind and scarring. As the season progresses, the larvae get busier and busier. The consequence is roots that are riddled with tunnels and wounds.

Adult carrot rust flies are poor fliers so keep rotating crops throughout the season. Try selecting a site downwind from the crop position last year. Also, wait until late May or early June to plant carrots, as that’s off this pest’s mating period.


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