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Cabbage Worms - 35 Harmful Farm Insects To Watch Out For

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35 Common Garden Insects (Pests on Plants)

As a farmer, the very last thing you want to see in your garden are insect pests on your plants, 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].

Here is a list of twenty-five 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 pests off your plants naturally.

1. Caterpillars


Among 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, 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 so 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 on affected areas.

3. Cabbage Worms

Cabbage WormsImage via www.canr.msu.edu

These crop pests kill plants by eating their way through the foliage. Cabbage worms are not difficult to get rid of if addressed in the early stage.

They cause the most damage in the late summer months, and when they start to attack, the plants will show signs of wilting and shriveling.

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

4. Grub Worm

10 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Grubs in Garden

Grubs are the larvae of various voracious garden beetles such as Japanese beetles, June beetles, and chafers.

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

5. Cutworms

CutwormsPicture via commons.wikimedia.org

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

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

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

6. Aphids (Greenfly)

Aphids (Greenfly)Often referred to as greenflies or green bugs that fly, these pear-shaped little guys 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 also carry viruses and can stunt your plants’ 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 other crops and 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. They also like to eat sweet cherry tomatoes [2].

8. Scales

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, 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 a whole, are beneficial pests. However, when there are too many of them, especially around young susceptible vegetation, they can become aggressive and destructive.

While the damage is generally minimal, these common garden pests typically go for 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 the adults and larvae can cause damage to foliage or even kill a plant if the infestation is severe.

11. Slugs and Snails

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails 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 during the nights and chew large holes into 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 damages to plants.

Driver ants are common in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. Although it’s not very common, an army or 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, tomatoes and fruit skins will show cloudy spots in the areas where the pest fed.

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, so named for its copper color. They feed on the sap of plants and cause damage with their digestive juices.

They target young growth and frequently leave small brown spots on plants like cauliflower, celery, broccoli, and cabbage. Other damages include deformed leaves and scarred stems.

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, and 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.

Their favorite targets are carrots, onions, beans, garlic, squash, and flowering plants. As a result, getting rid of thrips is vital for healthy crops and plants.

17. Whitefly

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 turns into black sooty mold. Infestation is usually on squash, citrus trees, potato, peppers, okra, tomato, 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 will defoliate trees and can damage fruits.

19. Mexican Bean Beetle

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 Bug

Squash Bugs - 27 Solutions to Get Rid of Bugs on Plants Naturally

Squash 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 road leaves found on pumpkins, squash, and other 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 Beetle

Blister Beetle

This 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 beetle’s coloring is usually bright and a variety of patterns, 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 or 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 affected plants.

23. Beet Armyworms

Beet ArmywormsImage via entomology.k-state.edu

They’re the larvae of the owlet moth and like to travel in gigantic groups eating everything in sight. Armyworms are capable of traveling immensely long distances in search of munchies.

Their favorite snacks include scallion, 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 a group.

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 of both leaves and fruits.

25. Flea Beetle

Flea BeetlePicture via commons.wikimedia.org

Flea beetles are some extremely tiny, but resilient and persistent little foes. 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 over-ripe and rotting fruits and vegetables.

These creatures lay their eggs under the skin of fruits. Later, the eggs later hatch into maggots that feed on these fruits, causing rot and spoilage.

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

27. Black Vine Weevil

Black Vine WeevilImage via www.flickr.com

Their targets are ornamental, their preferred favorites being cranberry, strawberry, rhododendron, blueberry, blackberry, and hemlock while in the larval stage.

You will also certainly freak out if they ever get in 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 Beetle (Potato Bug)

Colorado Potato Beetle - Harmful Garden Insects To Watch Out For

Are potato bugs dangerous? Also called potato beetle, Colorado beetles are a potato’s worst nightmare.

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

They’re also easy enough to recognize with their reddish-orange bodies, but by that point, it’s probably too late to nip it in the bud.

Unfortunately, they can be found far outside of just Colorado, so don’t get your hopes up from the name alone. 

29. Striped Cucumber Beetle

Striped Cucumber BeetleImage via www.flickr.com

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

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

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

30. Japanese Beetle

Japanese Beetle

Japanese beetles are bugs 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 ornamental 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 typically 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 body. They cause damage by sucking fluids from plants. The bugs generally feed on the underside of leaves.

33. Leaf Miner

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 a threat as they are a pest since the damage they do is ultimately minor. They typically go after garlic, beans, green onion, 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. Mealybug

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 suck out the fluids from plant cells, rendering the plant weakened.

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


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

Yes, some bugs are beneficial as pollinators and natural insect predators, and they’re everywhere — 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 bad insects. They are looking for an easy meal and your farm is the very center of a massive bulls-eye.

It’s only through due diligence and careful planning and arrangement that you can avoid potential damage to your garden.

This is only possible by paying close attention to what sorts of bad bugs are in the garden and researching the very particular ways in which to deal with them.

Happy farming, my earth-bound friends!

Sasha Brown

Blogger and lover of all things natural.

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