How To Identify Common Garden Pests

There is a large variety of garden pests that make the work of both seasoned and newbie gardeners more difficult. Aphids, earwigs, snails and slugs are some of the more common intruders into your garden space. Read on to find out how to easily identify the type of threat to your flower-beds and home grown fruits and vegetables.

Aphids Are Most Destructive

Aphids or plant lice are known as some of the most destructive pests. They feed on sap and release a sticky residue that makes foliage turn moldy. Plants affected by aphids can show a variety of symptoms: mottled or curled leaves, stunted growth, low yields, decreased growth rates, wilting, yellowing, browning and death.

To identify aphids, look for an insect with a soft body, black, green, or pink coloration, or one that is colorless. Aphids also have antennae with up to 6 segments. They feed themselves with the help of stylets or sucking mouthparts and have thin, long legs and 2-clawed, 2-jointed tarsi.

Earwigs: Harmful and Beneficial

Apart from shredding leaves, earwigs eat the flowers of plants such as clematis, chrysanthemums and dahlias. On the other hand, this insect also feeds on aphids, and you might weigh the pros and cons of keeping it in your garden.

Earwigs have flat, elongated body, between 0.28 and 2.0 inches long, but some species, such as Saint Helena, can grow longer. Earwigs have forceps-like pincers found on their abdomen, which are straight in females, and curved in males. The insect uses the pair of pincers to defend itself, catch pray, and fold its wings beneath the tegmina. Its antennae have 10 or more segments and are thread-like.

Snails and Slugs Destroy Surface and Underground Parts

Snails and slugs attack a variety of plants, including strawberries, vegetables, herbaceous perennials, young seedlings and climbing plants. While most species live above the surface, some feed on underground parts such as bulbs. You can spot snails and slugs mostly after rain and at night.

Slugs can be identified by two pairs of tentacles or feelers found on their head. The lower pair serves to sense smell while the upper one is light sensing. The saddle-shaped mantle is situated behind the head and under it are the anus and genital opening. The respiratory opening is found on one side of the body, typically the right side. Known as pneumostome, it is not difficult to see when open. A flat, small shell is contained within the mantle of some slugs.

In their adult stage, snails have coiled shells. They use their muscular foot to glide along, with this motion being powered by muscular contractions moving down the foot’s ventral. The muscle is particularly visible when snails crawl on a window glass.

 Snails have a specialized tissue layer or mantle which covers their internal organs. The mantle reaches and sometimes covers the shell and is partially retractable. The snail uses a radula with miniature hooks to break up food. That is why, you can easily identify a snail by the sound of food crunching: the radula tears away food particles.