Cutworms, Aphids, Thrips and Mites: The Bane of All Green Thumbs

Gardening can be a therapeutic exercise. Nothing can be more as relaxing as whiling a nice morning away in the garden, tending to your lawn and your garden as your centerpieces in the great American fashion of doing so.

Imagine yourself riding on a John Deere classic lawnmower while chomping down firmly on a Cuban cigar. Or whatever it is you use for a lawnmower (but if you haven’t yet, check out the detailed reviews from before making a purchase – you’ll thank us later).

There’s something just inherently relaxing about it.

But even the most carefully tended garden will at some point be attacked by pests – pests that will absolutely bedevil your garden. While most organic gardeners will be at a crossroad on how to control these pests, the extensive damage usually might cause loo of an entire crop. To identify the presence of pests, look at the general condition and appearance of the leaves because that is the main area of attack. The use of chemical pesticides although instantaneous may affect the quality of food and health of other animals and should only be used if anything else has failed. It is possible to keep these pests away without having to use chemical-based pesticides or insecticides.

1. Cutworms

Cutworms are active at night meaning that you will never see them in action destroying your plants but the extent of damage will appear to increase with each day. They are pests at the larvae stage and their body measures 1 inch in length. These grey or black worms can be found in almost all seedlings and vegetables as soon as they are transplanted. The most serious damage to young plants is to chew the stem at ground level, killing the seedling. Use of collars on seedling transplants, late planting and hand picking of the worms are effective organic control measures for cutworms.

2. Aphids

These pests are rather tiny and have long antennae projecting from the pear shaped critters. They are commonly found on fruit trees, vegetables and flowers. By sucking the sap out of a plant, an aphid infestation could lead to foliage distortion and in extreme cases loss of leaves entirely. Aphids can be controlled by spraying plants with solutions of neem, insecticidal soap, garlic, hot pepper and encouraging traditional pest predators such as lacewings, lady beetles and aphid midges.

3. Thrips

Also known as the thunder-fly, thrips are tiny black insects that destroy plants by sucking sap from the petals and leaves. The affected plants will have white patches on their leaves and petals regardless of whether they are indoors or outdoors. Use of biological controls is effective in getting rid of the pests and reducing their damage.

4. Red Spider Mites

It is not easy to spot the red spider mites because other than being tiny, they dwell under the leaves from where they suck sap. The resultant damage is seen as yellow mottling on the surface of leaves which later develops into fine webs. Raising the humidity in the growing area plus use of biological controls can help reduce the effect of these mites but organic sprays can also be used.