How to Identify Garden Pests by Damage They Cause

There are many garden pests that can cause damage to your garden and the various plants, trees and shrubs that you grow. Being able to identify common types of garden pests and the damage that they cause will help you better deal with any infestation that may occur. The common types of pests that you should be aware of include aphids, earwigs, slugs, snails and caterpillars.


Aphids are common pests that appear in almost every garden. They are hard to see, as they are extremely tiny pests, but easy to identify. They get into trees and other plants that secrete sap. Aphids produce a sticky residue that gets on the plant. The residue produced by aphids causes damage to a plant’s leaves and can be spotted by sudden discoloration. The sticky residue produced by aphids can cause mold and eventually cause the plant to die.

The ways to deal with an aphid infestation include using ladybugs or hover flies to kill the aphids. Plant flowers that attract the aphids and use the predators to draw them out and eliminate the problem.


Earwigs are small insects that are easy to identify by their pincers, giving them the appearance of a small scorpion-like creature. Earwigs do provide a useful benefit in that they eat aphids. The problem with earwigs, however, is that they have a voracious appetite and as a result can cause great damage to the leaves and flowers of various plants.

Eliminating earwigs may relieve you of the problem of leaf and flower damage, but will not eliminate your aphid infestation. Assess the damage done by earwigs to determine if further action is warranted against them. You may be able to accommodate a peaceful co-existence with the earwigs by sacrificing 1 flower or plant type in exchange for their control of your aphid population.

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails bury themselves in the ground, feeding on plant bulbs and vegetables. They feed particularly after heavy rains and in the nighttime, away from your eyes. Young seedlings are particularly susceptible to snail and slug attacks.

Protecting plants with sawdust or eggshells are two ways in which to keep snails from attacking. The sensitivity of their skin prevents them from traveling over surfaces that are irregular or rough. Salt can also be used, in a controlled manner, to eliminate their presence. As for controlling a slug infestation, use beer or grapefruit. There are also traps, known as “slug pubs” that can be buried into the ground to control slug populations.


The most destructive type of caterpillar is that of the white cabbage butterfly. A curled leaf or one that contains webbing is an indication that you have these caterpillars crawling about. The white cabbage butterfly eats leaves, stems, flowers and fruit.

Caterpillars can be controlled by manually removing them from leaves when first discovered. You can also place grease on the leaves of the plant to prevent the caterpillars from climbing on them.