7 Common Garden Pests

Growing a garden can be a fun and enjoyable experience, but when bugs invade and damage all of your hard work, it can be extremely frustrating. The first step to getting rid of these pesky creatures is to identify which ones are harming your plants. Below is a list of seven of the most common types of garden pests and signs that they may be living in your garden.


Caterpillars come in a variety of different colors and patterns. After nibbling on plants for awhile, they form a cocoon and eventually become butterflies or moths. These adult moths will then restart the process, laying eggs on a host plant. Once the baby caterpillars emerge, they eat up leaves until they are large enough to go through their pupa stage. Signs of caterpillars include feeding holes, excrement, and webbed or rolled leaves.


Aphids are pear shaped, soft-bodied sucking insects. Some have wings, while others do not. One thing the bugs all have in common is that they blend in with the plants they damage. By sipping plant juices through their straw-like mouth parts, they gain nutrition from the plant.

When aphids are present you will see curled leaves, stunted plant growth, and a lack of color in leaves. If you see ants crawling up and down the stem of a plant, you can be pretty sure Aphids live there because ants love the taste of the sweet fluid Aphids excrete.

Flea Beetle

Flea beetles are very tiny animals with enlarged hind legs. The bugs range in color from black to bronze. When disturbed, they swiftly hop away like fleas. Flea Beetles tend to prey on cabbage, potatoes, and spinach. You can recognize them by the small round holes found in the leaves they chew through.


Scales are hard to find because they are so small. They derive their name from the protective covering they form around themselves. There are two different types: Soft Scales and Armored Scales. Soft Scales possess a thin liquid covering that cannot be removed from their body and tend to move from leaf to leaf producing honeydew.

The Armored variety, on the other hand, have a shell made of wax and shed skins that can be taken off, and they don’t move around quite as much. Both Armored Scales and Soft Scales suck out vital plant fluids, weakening the plant and leaving it susceptible to attack from environmental extremes.

Japanese Beetles

You can recognize Japanese Beetles by their copper backs, green heads, and white dots along their rears. These beetles create jagged holes in leaves by eating away at tissues on the tops of the plants. This process causes plants to feel mushy underneath your feet. Lawns infested by the bugs tend to have slow growth and quickly dry out. Trees can also be affected, becoming mottled tan from the damage caused by Japanese Beetles.

Colorado Potato Beetles

Colorado Potato Beetles can be found wherever potatoes are grown. They love to feed off of the plant’s leaves, especially the flower buds. In the worst case scenario, they can completely strip the plants of all foliage. Luckily, these pests have many natural predators, including lady bugs, ground beetles, and wasps.


Whiteflies are small triangle shaped pests that feed on the undersides of leaves. The flies remove so much sap that the plant becomes seriously weakened. Gardens infested with Whiteflies have pale, wilted leaves. If you approach the leaves they are feeding on, they will take to the air in a large white cloud. Also, you may notice ants on the leaves feeding on the honeydew Whiteflies excrete.

Once you have identified the types of pests damaging your garden, you can take steps to remove them. If you are dealing with pests in and around your home, contact a U.S. Pest Protection Specialist today.