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Cabbage Worms - 35 Harmful Farm Insects To Watch Out For

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35 Bad Garden Insects & Pests on Plants (+ Pictures)

As a farmer, the very last thing you want to see in your garden are bad insects and related pests crawling and wiggling their way to cause damage.

Some insects are okay to have around. However, there are others that are not only a nuisance but can also be downright harmful to humans, plants, and livestock [1].

Below is a list of 25 common pests on plants you’ll want to get rid of. We’ll also look at the damages caused as well as how to get these garden pests off your plants naturally.

1. Caterpillars

CaterpillarsAmong the insects that eat farmers’ crops are caterpillars. However, it can be hard to get rid of caterpillars because they are sometimes hard to detect due to their camouflage and protective coloring.

These harmful insects that cause damage to plants have a soft body with six true legs on their thorax and prolegs attached to their abdomen. Caterpillars chew on leaves and stems, especially peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, and tobacco.

Gardeners generally refer to those found on tomato plants as hornworms because they have a “horn-like” projection at their rear end.

2. Leaf-Footed Bugs

13 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Leaf-Footed Bugs (Leptoglossus)The leaf-footed bug is named for the leaf-like flare on its hind legs. They adore tomatoes and pomegranates, so you can expect more damage to these plants. Read: How to Get Rid of Leaf-footed Bugs Naturally.

Leaf-footed bugs (Leptoglossus) don’t harm humans, but they have a foul odor if crushed. Generally, you will see obvious signs of feeding on leaves and fruits.

The larvae will suck the juice from leaves after hatching, so you can expect dry patches in affected areas.

3. Cabbage Maggots

Cabbage WormsImage via www.canr.msu.edu

These crop pests kill plants by eating their way through the roots. Cabbage root maggots can be difficult to control.

Crops that cabbage maggots feed on include cabbages, radishes, kale, Brussels sprouts, beets, cauliflower, and broccoli.

4. Grubs

11 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Grubs in GardenGrubs are the larvae of various voracious garden beetles, such as Japanese beetles, June beetles, and chafers. You normally find these pests (the grubs) in damp soil.

Grub worms eat the roots of plants, causing things like droopy leaves, dying plants, and graying lawns. Also, areas with large infestations may feel spongy.

5. Cutworms

CutwormsPicture via commons.wikimedia.org

Among the pests that destroy plants, cutworms are most active at night and are found mostly on seedlings and new transplants.

These fat, black, or gray worms mostly chew through stems at ground level and make their way up until the plant is completely devoured. Yes, they are bad garden worms.

A cutworm is about 1-inch long and generally appears during the months of May and June.

6. Aphids (Greenflies)

Aphids (Greenfly)Often referred to as greenflies or green bugs that fly, these vegetable garden pests appear in different colors. Black aphids, red aphids, white, brown, yellow, green, gray, or even pink!

They most certainly aren’t picky and like to hang out in large packs. Worse still, you can find them pretty much everywhere, so no farm is truly safe from their wrath.

The thing they crave the most is sap. These destructive crop insects will suck plants dry in days, causing the leaves to wilt. Aphids may also stunt plant growth.

They can be dealt with, however, so the very second you see them, start looking into the most effective ways to get rid of aphids (greenflies) without harming good bugs.

7. Kissing Bugs

10 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Kissing Bugs (Triatominae) - Harmful Farm InsectsPicture via Wikimedia

Kissing bugs feed on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded animals. They have a cone-shaped head and red, yellow, or orange stripes around the body.

Kissing bugs can cause disease in humans and animals. Like mosquitoes, they bite and suck the blood of their victims. Plus, they also like to eat sweet cherry tomatoes [2].

8. Scale Insects

ScalesPhoto via www.flickr.com

The male scale insect looks slightly different from the female.

Females appear as soft or hard bumps on plants and lack wings. The males, on the other hand, have wings and resemble tiny gnats.

Scale insects cause damage by sucking sap from plants. You may notice plants having yellow shades, and then the leaves begin to drop.

The plant will eventually die if scales are not controlled swiftly. These critters appear mostly on trees, greenhouse plants, and ornamental shrubs.

9. Earwigs

15 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Earwigs (Pincher Bugs)Are earwigs harmful to plants? Earwigs, on the whole, are beneficial pests. However, when there are too many of them, they can become aggressive and destructive.

While the damage is generally minimal, these common garden pests typically go after flowers, fruits, and leaves.

10. Sawflies

13 Natural Ways to Get Rid of SawfliesSawflies are relatives of wasps. The female uses her saw-like ovipositor to create holes in leaves where she lays her eggs. Different species of sawflies target different plants.

Both adults and larvae can cause damage to foliage.

11. Slugs and Snails

Slugs and SnailsSlugs and snails are not insects but are common garden pests. They are most active in gardens where it is damp and/or shady.

You can spot them in well-mulched areas or under rocks. They are most active at night and chew large holes in plants while feeding.

They typically eat rotting vegetation as well as plants like hostas, cabbage, lettuce, and basil.

12. Ants

23 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Ants in the GardenImage via contentgrid

Ants are typically helpful in a garden but can become pests when they disturb the soil around plant roots. They also protect aphids and mealybugs from predators, thus creating the potential for more damage to plants.

Driver ants are common in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. Although it’s not very common, an army or a large group of them can kill a human.

13. Stink Bugs

Stink BugsKnown for releasing foul odors, plant-feeding stink bugs are present throughout the seasons and will feed on plant juices.

Damage caused by stink bugs generally leads to early decay and spoilage.

Damage to leafy garden crops will show as yellow or white blotches. Moreover, tomato and fruit skins will show cloudy spots in the areas where the pests feed.

Adults are not always green. They might also be brown or grayish in color.

14. Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers Having the ability to consume 16 times their own weight in a day, grasshoppers can cause extensive damage to plants.

These harmful farm insects are voracious feeders that chew on the leaves, flowers, and stems of a live plant. They are green or brown to reddish yellow in color and are about 1 ½ inches long.

15. Tarnished Plant Bugs

Tarnished Plant BugImage via commons.wikimedia.org

Another bug that might be eating your plants is the tarnished plant bug (TPB), Lygus lineolaris. These greenish-brown bugs feed on the sap of plants and cause damage with their digestive juices.

They can damage plants like strawberries, cotton, tomatoes, and celery. Damages include catfacing and aborted fruit buds.

16. Thrips

13 Natural Ways to Get Rid of ThripsPicture via www.pthorticulture.com

Thrips are all-rounders, as they will suck the juice from leaves, flowers, and fruits. If you notice that your plants have silvery speckling, streaks, or small white patches, these critters may be present.

Moreover, they feed in large groups, and you will likely find them in greenhouses and indoor and outdoor gardens.

They will target carrots, onions, beans, garlic, squash, and flowering plants. As a result, getting rid of thrips is vital for healthy crops and plants.

17. Whiteflies

WhiteflyImage via www.flickr.com

Commonly found in mass groups on the undersides of leaves, whiteflies suck the sap from plants in outdoor gardens.

The damage caused can be tremendous, as they cause leaves to shrivel and turn yellow. These leaves will eventually fall off.

Whiteflies also secrete honeydew, which causes black, sooty mold. Infestation is usually found on squash, citrus trees, potatoes, peppers, okra, tomatoes, and the cabbage family of plants.

18. Leafrollers

Leafroller - Harmful Farm Insects To Watch Out ForPhoto via plantvillage.psu.edu

Leafroller insects are the caterpillars (larvae) of certain moths. You will see rolled leaves that contain caterpillars after the adult moth visits.

They tend to target woody plants and fruit trees. Large infestations can defoliate trees and damage fruits.

19. Mexican Bean Beetles

Mexican Bean BeetlePhoto via commons.wikimedia.org

These little guys look a lot like friendly ladybugs, but don’t be fooled—they’re clever copycats.

Mexican bean beetles have a wide diet consisting of lima beans, snap beans, soybeans, alfalfa, cowpea, and other plants.

These annoying little critters like to chew on the underside of leaves, creating a skeletonized appearance. Leaves may also curl and fall off.

20. Squash Bugs

Squash Bugs - 27 Solutions to Get Rid of Bugs on Plants NaturallySquash bugs! Just what you were planning to do, right? Well, maybe. These particular bugs are any gourd’s worst nightmare, outside of their amusingly appropriate name.

They love the wide, shady, sheltering undersides of the broad leaves of pumpkins, squash, and gourds.

Their eggs look like little smooth, yellowish-brown pebbles, and you may find them laid in clusters on the undersides of the leaves of your innocent little gourd. Check out the natural ways to get rid of squash bugs.

21. Blister Beetles

Blister BeetleThis one is a particularly vivid nightmare for any farmer trying to keep his hay in good shape. This insect has a taste for the stuff and will stop at nothing to munch on it endlessly.

Worse, blister beetles operate in swarms and contain a poisonous substance that can be dangerous to whatever may swallow them.

Hay that’s been contaminated with the toxin, which is released automatically if the beetles are injured or killed, can be fed to horses and make them ill.

Blister beetles coloring is usually bright and varied, with shades of gray or brown and yellow stripes running down the backs.

22. Harlequin Bugs

Harlequin BugsImage via commons.wikimedia.org

Harlequin bugs are red, orange, and deep blue or black stink bugs that target cruciferous plants such as cabbage and broccoli.

They can also attack tomatoes, squash, okra, and other plants. You will see cloudy, discolored puncture marks on the affected plants.

23. Beet Armyworms

Beet ArmywormsImage via entomology.k-state.edu

These armyworms will feed on escallion, cucumber, cabbage, corn, grass, grains, and pretty much anything they get a hold of.

The only time beet armyworms settle down and take a break is when it’s time to bundle up in a cocoon. The reason they’re dubbed army worms is that they tend to move in groups.

24. Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder BugsImage via commons.wikimedia.org

These instantly recognizable bugs have red marks on their otherwise black bodies and wings that stand out prominently.

Are boxelder bugs harmful? Not really; however, they can become a nuisance when they appear all over your home. And unless you tackle them early on, you’ll be facing their tedious annoyance every year.

With regards to crops, you only have to worry if you have fruit trees on your property. Damage can result in minor deformities in both leaves and fruits.

25. Flea Beetles

Flea BeetlePicture via commons.wikimedia.org

Flea beetles are tiny but resilient and persistent little pests. They look and act like fleas when disturbed, jumping high into the air and vanishing just as quickly.

Flea beetles can also spread disease among your plants. They are vectors of Stewart’s bacterial wilt [3]. Once spotted, it’s strongly recommended to eradicate them as swiftly as possible.

These leaf-eating insects will go after vegetables like potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, corn, and peppers.

26. Fruit Flies

Fruit FliesImage via commons.wikimedia.org

Fruit flies are tiny flies that you have likely seen before. They love overripe and rotting fruits and vegetables.

These creatures lay their eggs under the skin of fruits. Later, the eggs hatch into maggots that feed on these fermenting fruits and vegetables.

Bananas, tomatoes, mangoes, and grapes are some of their favorites. You may see fruit flies around compost as well.

27. Black Vine Weevils

Black Vine WeevilImage via www.flickr.com

While in the larval stage, these pests target ornamental plants and fruits. Their favorites are cranberry, strawberry, rhododendron, blueberry, blackberry, and hemlock.

You will also freak out if they ever get into your greenhouse, since they like plants grown in containers. The black vine weevil isn’t one of the most destructive garden insects for nothing.

28. Colorado Potato Beetles (Potato Bugs)

Colorado Potato Beetle - Harmful Garden Insects To Watch Out ForAre potato bugs dangerous? Also called potato beetles, Colorado potato beetles are a potato farmer’s worst nightmare.

They spread out across many territories and cause devastating damage to potato plants as adults.

They’re also easy to recognize with their reddish-orange bodies. Unfortunately, they can be found far outside of just Colorado, so don’t get your hopes up based on the name alone.

29. Cucumber Beetles

Striped Cucumber BeetleImage via www.flickr.com

These yellow bugs with black stripes on each wing are instantly recognizable. However, there are two common types of cucumber beetles: striped and spotted.

The striped cucumber beetle is more common than the spotted cucumber beetle, which has spots instead of stripes. Both can cause serious damage to plants.

The larvae feed on corn and cucurbit roots, while the adults feed on the blossoms and leaves of flowering plants. As such, they can be a force to be reckoned with in your garden.

30. Japanese Beetles

Japanese BeetleJapanese beetles are insects that eat flowers and feed on the leaves and fruits of a wide variety of plants.

They go after asparagus, fruit trees, shrubs, corn, soybeans, roses, and other ornamentals and vegetables.

Additionally, they usually feed in small groups, which at least makes them easy enough to spot.

31. Pill Bugs (Rollie Pollies)

Pill Bugs (Rollie Pollies)Picture via commons.wikimedia.org

Pillbugs are terrestrial crustaceans. They love moist areas under fallen leaves, plant debris, or mulch.

Rollie pollies may also feed on plant roots. However, they prefer already-dead plant or animal materials.

32. Lace Bugs

Lace BugsPhoto via www.flickr.com

Lace bugs have a lacy-looking membrane covering their wings and upper bodies. They cause damage by sucking fluids from plants. The bugs generally feed on the underside of leaves.

33. Leaf Miners

Leaf Miner - Harmful Farm Insects To Watch Out ForImage via commons.wikimedia.org

A wide variety of different harmful garden pests may be recognized from the burrow-like patterns they leave in the leaves they eat. However, winding, twisting white lines are a dead giveaway for leaf miners.

Thankfully, these guys aren’t as much of a threat as they are a pest, since the damage they do is ultimately minor. They typically go after garlic, beans, green onions, cabbage, peppers, and more.

One of the best ways to deal with leaf miners is to squeeze the leaves, eliminating traces of whatever may still be inside.

34. Mealybugs

MealybugImage via commons.wikimedia.org

Mealy bugs can be a major hassle since they can even come indoors and attack plants being kept on the windowsill.

Again, they’re tiny sap-suckers that are found worldwide. Additionally, these bad garden bugs look a bit like sticky cornmeal when viewed up close.

Mealybugs are best gotten rid of by other pest controllers, such as ladybird beetles. 

35. Spider Mites

Natural Ways to Get Rid of Spider Mites on PlantsPicture via extension.umn.edu

Spider mites are arachnids. These plant pests suck fluids from plant cells, weakening the plant.

You can tell where they’ve been by the small yellow or brown spots on the leaves they’ve attacked. Your plants may also start to look lifeless.


Insects are the ultimate double-edged sword for a farmer since many are supremely useful, like butterflies, ladybugs, and praying mantises.

Yes, some insects are beneficial as pollinators and natural predators, and they’re everywhere—in your garden box too. Above all, these are the ones, along with other natural enemies, you want to keep around for the sheer assistance they can give you.

The key to keeping an organic garden alive is to watch out for pests. They are looking for an easy meal, and your farm may seem like an easy target.

As a result, pay close attention to what sorts of pests are in your garden and look for natural ways to deal with them. See the article: Natural and homemade pesticides for vegetable gardens.

Sasha Brown

Sasha Brown is a blogger and lover of all things natural.

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