The National Wildlife Federation has found that millions of Americans have started growing gardens to benefit the local landscape. But whether you’re growing a wildflower garden or a backyard full of fruits and vegetables, one thing is for sure: you don’t want it to be ruined by pests in the garden.

There are plenty of garden insect pests that can appear and wreak havoc on all of your hard work with your plants. Here are five common insects to look out for — and fight off as soon as they appear.

1. Aphids

Aphids tend to enjoy fruit and vegetable plants, as well as shade trees and ornamentals. They feed on plant sap, which makes leaves start to sag. They excrete honeydew, too, which can cause mold to grow, and when they appear in large numbers, they can spread diseases to your plants.

So, you’ll want to keep an eye out for aphids in your garden. They are tiny, pear-shaped green insects. You can wash them away with a strong stream of water, or protect plants with row covers — a common form of protection from many different types of plant predators.

2. Caterpillars

You probably know what a caterpillar looks like. They will chew through the leaves of your plants, though, and often tunnel into your plant and eat the fruit before you can.

Detering caterpillars may mean encouraging natural predators or applying row covers. Or, call in experts in garden care like the ones you’ll find at Either way, if you find holey leaves across your garden, it may be worth it to try and get rid of them.

3. Flea Beetles

Any vegetable plant will attract the flea beetle, which chews on the leaves and can cause damage to young plants. They also lay their larvae near roots, as the young beetles feed on this part of the plant. The shiny green beetles can be deterred with row covers, too, or you can spritz your plants with garlic spray.

4. Tarnished Plant Bug

These bugs come in green, brown, and mottled varieties, but they all have yellowish triangles on their wings. No matter which color they are, though, they can wreak havoc on your garden. That’s because they suck plant juices from flowers, vegetables, and fruits, causing wilting, stunting, or the distortion of leaves or fruits.

Row covers keep tarnished plant bugs at bay, as does a spray of neem oil. Keep weeds back, too — these attract tarnished plant bugs to land and start feasting.

5. Cabbage Maggots

This variety of pests may be the hardest to pinpoint because they work underground. But their burrowing can be fatal to your plants, as they create a direct pathway for disease to hit your plants at their roots.

Row covers can help prevent the appearance of cabbage maggots. You may consider burning harvested plants at the root to make sure they don’t attract maggots, either.

Prevent Pests in the Garden

These are only five pests in the garden that can wreak havoc on your harvests. Keep an eye out for them — and try out some preventative measures, such as row covers — to help protect your plants from the worst. Once you do, you can happily tend to your garden without worrying that all of your hard work will be ruined by a bug.

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