Get Rid of the Insects and Protect Your Garden

by Kent Higgins

When it comes to vile predators interfering with the natural growth of your peaceful plants, these insects and other beasties do their dirty work in two main ways.

The first is chewing insects. These guys will leave holes in your plant’s leaves or eat away whole sections of them, weakening the leaf tremendously. Insects or other deviants in this category include earwigs, beetles, grasshoppers, slugs, caterpillars and snails. The second variety is the sucking variety, and yes, these guys just plain suck. These guys are generally smaller and include mites, flies and aphids, and they prey on the plant by sucking all the juices and nutrients out of the leaves, which naturally doesn’t leave your leaves in very good shape.

Don’t get the idea that all chewing creatures are big and all sucking ones are small though, and plan your attack strategy around that, because it may not be the case. There are some larger sucking creatures as well, including squash bugs, chinch bugs and stinkbugs. These guys can be as big as your little fingernail. By the same token not all chewers are big. One little bugger with a big appetite for leafy goodness is the black flea beetle, who enters the ring at just 1/4 of an inch in diameter.

You may come across leaves that become rolled, puckered or twisted out of shape after a time. The likely cause of a rolled leaf is a little green hairless caterpillar, who you’ll likely find nestled contentedly inside the leaf when you unroll it.

It could also be aphids taking up residence inside a rolled up leaf. Aphids come in a variety of colors, but are easily identifiable by their nearly transparent bodies, large abdomens with prong shaped protrusions jutting out the back, and their six legs. For these distinct little guys, a good chemical spray may be needed without causing more damage on abused leaves of even small plants like pony tail palm. This procedure can be difficult to get off manually especially on a plant with many leaves.

One last guy who leaves a distinctive trail of destruction in its wake is the leaf miner. These guys are aptly named, as they take up residence inside the leaf and tunnel around in it like a jolly miner in the mountain. The tunnels they make leave a transparent trail in the leaf that actually gives the appearance of a window in which you can look right through the leaf. You may even see the miner itself in one of these tunnels upon close inspection.

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